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Rh Factor Incompatibility

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is Rh (rhesus) factor incompatibility?

Rh factor incompatibility is a condition that occurs when a mother is Rh negative (Rh-) and her baby is Rh positive (Rh+). Rh factor is a protein found on red blood cells. You are Rh+ if you have this protein and Rh- if you do not have it. Rh incompatibility usually has little effect on your first pregnancy, but can cause problems with future pregnancies.

What causes Rh factor incompatibility?

If you are Rh- and have an Rh+ baby, your body may make antibodies against the Rh protein. Antibodies are substances that protect the body from outside invaders. When you get pregnant again with an Rh+ baby, these antibodies will become active. An abnormal pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, or abdominal injury can also make these antibodies active. These antibodies can cause serious problems in an unborn baby.

What are the signs and symptoms of Rh factor incompatibility?

No signs and symptoms will tell you if you have Rh factor incompatibility. Your baby may have the following signs and symptoms when he or she is born:

How is Rh factor incompatibility diagnosed?

If you are Rh-, healthcare providers need to know if you have been pregnant before or if you have received a blood transfusion. The following tests may be done:

How are Rh factor incompatibility problems treated?

You will not need treatment for Rh incompatibility problems, but your baby might. Rh incompatibility may be life-threatening to your baby. Treatment may include any of the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

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How can Rh factor incompatibility be prevented?

Where can I find support and more information?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor or obstetrician?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Treatment options

Further information

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