Rh Factor & Abortion

Do you know your blood type? Many Americans don’t. Yet knowing your blood type, and particularly if you are positive or negative, is important to know if you are pregnant, have had a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, or are considering abortion.

There are four blood types: A, B, O and AB. Within these four groups a person is either positive or negative. This is the Rh factor which is the type of protein found on the red blood cells. About 82 percent of us are Rh-positive, which leaves 18 percent Rh-negative.

In a pregnancy, the Rh factor is only a problem when the woman is Rh-negative and the baby is Rh-positive. During a pregnancy, the woman and baby do not share blood systems. A small amount of blood from the baby can, however, cross the placenta into the woman’s blood system. If the woman is Rh-negative, she will become sensitized during the first pregnancy if the baby is Rh-positive. In future pregnancies, the mother’s body will make antibodies that will attack the blood of an Rh-positive baby. These antibodies break down the baby’s red blood cells causing a host of problems–including possible anemia, brain damage, serious illness, and even the baby’s death.

Even if a pregnancy is not carried to term due to abortion, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, the woman can become sensitized and attack the babies’ red blood cells in future pregnancies. Fortunately, treatment of the antibodies in your system is available to prevent this from happening if you are Rh-negative.

The only way to know to do this treatment is to find out if you are Rh-positive or negative. A simple blood test will tell you this information. The blood test needs to be done before an abortion or very soon after a suspected miscarriage.

Contact your doctor for more information on the Rh factor as well as to get a blood test to identify your blood type and Rh factor. At Your First Look we can give you a referral to an area doctor.

Source: ACOG–American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology