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  • Writer's pictureSaeed Anwar Anuj

Negative blood groups, Rhesus disease, and anti-D injections

Anti-D injection is a medication that is used to prevent a condition called Rhesus (Rh) disease in pregnant women. Rh disease occurs when a woman who is Rh-negative (does not have a certain protein on the surface of her red blood cells) becomes pregnant with a baby who is Rh-positive (has the protein). The baby's Rh-positive blood cells can enter the mother's bloodstream and cause her body to produce antibodies against them. These antibodies can cross the placenta and attack the baby's red blood cells, leading to anemia, brain damage, or even death.

Anti-D injection is given to Rh-negative women to prevent the formation of these antibodies. The injection is typically given within 72 hours of delivery, if the baby is Rh-positive, and also following any miscarriage or abortion. The injection can also be given if the baby's Rh status is not known, or in certain other situations where there is a risk of exposure to Rh-positive blood.

It is important to note that not all Rh-negative women will require the anti-D injection. Your doctor or midwife will determine whether you need the injection based on your Rh status and the Rh status of your baby. They will also explain when and where to take the injection, which is usually given in the arm by a healthcare professional.

Anti-D injection is usually well tolerated and does not cause any serious side effects. However, some people may experience mild discomfort or pain at the injection site. In extremely rare cases, there may be an allergic reaction to the injection, which can cause symptoms such as hives, itching, or difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after receiving the injection, seek medical attention immediately.

The Anti-D is a human blood product and as such there is a very small risk of infection transmission. However, the risk is considered much lower than the risks associated with Rh disease. It is important to note that the Anti-D injection does not protect against other blood-borne infections.

Anti-D injection is a safe and effective medication that can prevent serious complications for both mother and baby in the event of Rh-negative mother carrying an Rh-positive baby. It's important to follow the guidance of healthcare professional on when and where to take the injection, and to seek medical attention if experiencing any adverse effects.

Saeed Anwar

Edmonton, Canada

[The enclosed video is made by Jarin Taslem Mourosi, a Ph.D. Student in Biology at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC]

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