Frequency and clinical significance of red cell antibodies in pregnancy - A prospective study from India

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Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology


Background: For appropriate management of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN), it is important to detect irregular red cell antibody in the antenatal period. Though it is a simple one-step method, it is not part of routine antenatal screening in many developing countries. To reiterate the importance of antenatal antibody screening, we have assessed the frequency and clinical significance of irregular red cell antibodies in our patient population. Materials and Methods: A prospective study was carried out from October 2013 to May 2015 at a tertiary care center from south India. All antenatal samples received by the laboratory for red cell antibody screening were screened using a commercial three-cell screening panel. Antibody identification along with further Immunohematological techniques as required were performed for cases with positive screening results. Neonates of the alloimmunized cases were followed up to determine the clinical significance of the antibody. Results: A total of 2336 antenatal mothers were screened for red cell antibodies. The overall rate of alloimmunization in the study group was 2.27%. Alloimmunization rate among RhD-negative pregnancies was 6.9%. Other than anti-D (49%), we identified anti-D + anti-C (5%), anti-G (5%), anti-c (5%), anti-E (2%), anti-e (2%), anti-H (Bombay phenotype) (7%), anti-M (2%), anti-Lea (2%), anti-Leb (12%), and autoantibodies (9%) in the maternal serum. Anti-D, anti-D + anti-C, anti-G, anti-c, and anti-H were found to be clinically significant in this study. Conclusion: This study showed that 1 in 125 RhD-positive pregnancies can develop red cell alloantibodies. Hence, implementing routine antenatal antibody screening irrespective of RhD status is essential.

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