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Hemolytic disease of the newborn
Hemolytic disease of the newborn, also known as HDN or Erythroblastosis fetalis, is an alloimmune condition that develops in a fetus, when the IgG antibodies that have been produced by the mother and have passed through the placenta include ones which attack the red blood cells in the fetal circulation. The red cells are broken down and the fetus can develop reticulocytosis and anemia. This fetal disease ranges from mild to very severe, and fetal death from heart failure (hydrops fetalis) can occur. When the disease is moderate or severe, many erythroblasts are present in the fetal blood and so these forms of the disease can be called erythroblastosis fetalis (or erythroblastosis foetalis).
Hemolysis leads to elevated bilirubin levels. After delivery bilirubin is no longer cleared (via the placenta) from the neonate's blood and the symptoms of jaundice (yellowish skin and yellow discolouration of the whites of the eyes) increase within 24 hours after birth. Like any other severe neonatal jaundice, there is the possibility of acute or chronic kernicterus.
Profound anemia can cause high-output heart failure, with pallor, enlarged liver and/or spleen, generalized swelling, and respiratory distress. The prenatal manifestations are known as hydrops fetalis; in severe forms this can include petechiae and purpura. The infant may be stillborn or die shortly after birth.
Antibodies are produced when the body is exposed to an antigen foreign to the make-up of the body. If a mother is exposed to an alien antigen and produces IgG (as opposed to IgM which does not cross the placenta), the IgG will target the antigen, if present in the fetus, and may affect it in utero and persist after delivery. The three most common models in which a woman becomes sensitized toward (i.e., produces IgG antibodies against) a particular blood type are:
The diagnosis of HDN is based on history and laboratory findings:
Blood tests done on the newborn baby
Blood tests done on the mother
Before birth, options for treatment include intrauterine transfusion or early induction of labor when pulmonary maturity has been attained, fetal distress is present, or 35 to 37 weeks of gestation have passed. The mother may also undergo plasma exchange to reduce the circulating levels of antibody by as much as 75%.
After birth, treatment depends on the severity of the condition, but could include temperature stabilization and monitoring, phototherapy, transfusion with compatible packed red blood, exchange transfusion with a blood type compatible with both the infant and the mother, sodium bicarbonate for correction of acidosis and/or assisted ventilation.
Rhesus-negative mothers who have had a pregnancy with/are pregnant with a rhesus-positive infant are given Rh immune globulin (RhIG) at 28 weeks during pregnancy and within 72 hours after delivery to prevent sensitization to the D antigen. It works by binding any fetal red cells with the D antigen before the mother is able to produce an immune response and form anti-D IgG. A drawback to pre-partum administration of RhIG is that it causes a positive antibody screen when the mother is tested which is indistinguishable from immune reasons for antibody production.
Complications of HDN could include kernicterus, hepatosplenomegaly, inspissated (thickened or dried) bile syndrome and/or greenish staining of the teeth, hemolytic anemia and damage to the liver due to excess bilirubin.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hemolytic_disease_of_the_newborn". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|