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Mother-Child and the Rh Factor

Regardless of bloodtype what is the problem if the Mother is Rh- with an Rh+ baby? 1st baby, and subsequent babies if not addressed? What happens and how?

Also, this is a very strange question to ask you, I know, and if you can provide me with any info, advice, just let me know and I'll post it as a new problem and let me know how many credits. I have a very, very intimidating professor who is also an important Dr. at a local hospital who I am going to have to try to get a good recommendation from. I am a pretty creative person but clench up when trying to come up with some "brilliant questions" to ask him. How's this for your strangest request? Any advice for dealing with scary professors?

Solution Preview

I'll answer the blood type question first.

As you know, the Rh factor is an antigen found on the surface of RBCs (red blood cells). People who have Rh antigens are known as Rh+ and those without the Rh antigens are known as Rh-.

Normally, blood plasma does not contain anti-Rh antibodies. However, if an Rh- individual receives Rh+ blood, the immune system starts making anti-Rh antibodies (with, of course, a built in molecular memory system for later such assaults). If there is a second transfusion of Rh+ blood, the previously formed anti-Rh antibodies will attack the donor RBCs and cause hemolysis. This can cause a severe problem to say the least. It could lead to massive anemia and shock.

So, with an Rh- mother carrying an Rh+ child, there is no problem with the first child. However, sometimes, during that birth of the first child, some blood from the child gets into the mother's bloodstream. This could happen if small amounts of fetal blood passed through the placenta. As a ...

Solution Summary

The Rh factor and its effect on pregnancy is explained.

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