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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Rh Incompatibility: Treatment & Monitoring

Rh Incompatibility

Alternate Names : Erythroblastosis Fetalis, Kernicterus, Hydrops Fetalis, Rh Isoimmunization

Rh Incompatibility | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

The main treatment for Rh incompatibility is the Rho immune globulin. It is given by injection to the mother at 28 weeks and at 72 hours after delivering a baby. This injection may also be given after abortions or other terminated pregnancies. This gamma globulin, also known as RhoGam, prevents the formation of antibodies that may affect other pregnancies.

Other procedures that may be necessary for treatment include:

  • planned delivery, via cesarean section or induced labor
  • phenobarbital given several weeks before delivery to lower the bilirubin level in the blood of the newborn
  • exchange transfusion, which is a blood transfusion in which fresh group 0, RH negative blood is given to an unborn fetus in exchange for his or her blood
  • infusion of albumin, a protein, to decrease bilirubin levels
  • phototherapy, a procedure in which the newborn is placed under special lights, to help decrease the level of bilirubin in the blood
  • Depending on the degree of Rh incompatibility, the child may need physical therapy and a ventilator, or artificial breathing machine, for breathing difficulties.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Side effects of medications include stomach upset, rash, and allergic reaction. Side effects of blood transfusions may include lethargy, muscle twitching, bleeding, and reaction to the blood being transfused. Many of the therapies may interfere with parent bonding. Encouraging parent bonding between treatments and making adjustments so parents can partake in care of their baby when possible will allow for more parent bonding.

    What happens after treatment for the disease?

    When the incompatibility is diagnosed and treated quickly, the infant may recover quickly without further problems, or with exchange transfusion. Infants who developed more severe Rh reactions and are untreated may suffer severe nerve or brain damage, requiring life-long treatment with therapy to adjust to the world physically, mentally, and medically.

    How is the disease monitored?

    The healthcare provider should be contacted if an infant who has been exposed to Rh incompatability develops a fever, yellowing of the skin, poor appetite, poor weight gain, or inconsolable crying.

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    Rh Incompatibility: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed: 08/09/01

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