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Abortion May Cause Rh Sensitization

Because you are pregnant and your blood is Rh negative, your physician has recommended that you receive a protective injection of GAMULIN Rh (Rh [D] immune globulin human). Only 15% of women are Rh negative.

Let’s Talk About Rh Sensitization

We will start with the fact that there are four types of blood. You were born with one of these types of blood - A, B, AB or O. In addition, blood is also classified as Rh positive or Rh negative. One important reason for testing your blood is to determine if you are Rh negative. This is determined because an Rh-negative woman having an abortion or miscarriage of an Rh-positive fetus (or full-term delivery of an Rh-positive baby) may become sensitized to the Rh factor - and this sensitization could dangerously affect any Rh-positive children she may have in the future.

What happens is this: Keeping in mind that your blood is Rh negative, and that of the fetus is Rh positive, a small amount of blood from the Rh-positive fetus may enter your bloodstream during pregnancy and particularly during the abortion procedure. Your body produces antibodies (foreign substance fighters) as a natural protection against the blood cells received from the fetus. These antibodies have no effect on your blood cells, and rarely on the blood cells of this fetus, but they stay in your bloodstream and will find their way into the bloodstream of a future fetus during your next pregnancy.

The antibodies will destroy blood cells in an Rh-positive fetus and when the baby is born, it may have a condition known as hemolytic disease of the newborn. This is a very serious disease which may result in permanent disability or even death of the child. Chances of the disease developing increase with each subsequent pregnancy.There is a method of preventing the blood system from producing these antibodies in a woman not already Rh sensitized. This is another reason for testing your blood, to see if you are already sensitized, either due to a prior pregnancy that involved an Rh-positive fetus or due to having received Rh-positive blood through transfusion.Sensitization to the Rh factor has no effect upon your health during a pregnancy; it will affect only the health of any future Rh-positive baby.

Because blood tests show that you are not Rh sensitized, you will be given an injection, after the abortion, of a special protein product called Gamulin Rh (Rh [D] immune globulin human) which will block the formation of antibodies your body would otherwise produce. This is a highly effective means of preventing Rh sensitization and is a simple method.Even though it is not always possible to determine the blood type of a fetus, it is important that Gamulin Rh be given when a pregnancy is aborted or miscarried.

Gamulin Rh is used for the prevention of hemolytic disease, not as a cure. Also, Gamulin Rh must be given after each pregnancy is terminated, either in abortion or full-term delivery. The protection supplied by Gamulin Rh lasts only until your next pregnancy. It is important that you receive Gamulin Rh even if you do not intend to have any children in the future. This measure will protect you against Rh sensitization which could cause problems if you ever received a transfusion of Rh-positive blood, either accidentally or because Rh-negative blood was not available for emergency transfusion.You may notice some tenderness or soreness where you will receive your injection, but Gamulin seldom produces any serious reaction.Now you know about Rh sensitization and what it means to you and to any Rh-positive children you might have in the future.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to discuss them with your doctor.