Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Pregnancy health centre

Select An Article

Rhesus disease

In rhesus disease, antibodies from a pregnant woman's blood attack her growing baby's blood cells. This does not harm the mum, but can be a serious risk to a baby.

Doctors may also call this condition haemolytic disease of the foetus and newborn (HDFN).

The risk of rhesus disease is usually picked up during routine antenatal screening. It occurs when the mum has rhesus negative blood (RhD negative), but her baby in her womb has rhesus positive blood (RhD positive).

Most people are RhD positive, with blood types determined by genes inherited from your parents.

The condition can usually be prevented with anti-D immunoglobulin injections.

However, these injections don't work if the mum has already been sensitised to RhD positive blood. In these cases, extra monitoring will be arranged during the pregnancy and during delivery. If a baby is born with rhesus disease, they may have jaundice or anaemia.

Treatment for rhesus disease after delivery includes phototherapy (light therapy), blood transfusions and intravenous immunoglobulin injections.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 04, 2016

Parenting newsletter

Tips to inspire healthy habits.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

agave syrup
These may not be so healthy
exercise illustration
The 7-minute workout
female patient consulting with female GP
How to boost your chances
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
heart rate graphic
What is it, and how is it treated?
smiling woman
Much more than weight loss
crossword puzzle
Tips for the first hard days
sperm and egg
Facts to help you get pregnant
smiling_handsome_man
Put your best face forward
sick child
Treating your child's cold & fever
couple makigh salad
How it can help with weight loss
couple watching sunset
How much do you know?