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Irregular Red Blood Cell Antibody Screening

Red Blood Cell Antibodies

Red blood cell antibody screening is used to detect antibodies other than those directed against antigens A and B. This screening is particularly important in pregnant women who are Rh-negative if the father is Rh-positive. In this situation, the fetus may be Rh-negative or Rh-positive. If the fetus is Rh-negative, there is no problem of incompatibility between the antibodies in the mother’s blood and the fetus’s red blood cells. If the red blood cells of an Rh-positive fetus come into contact with the mother’s Rh-negative blood, the mother will consider these red blood cells as foreign and “record” this concept in the memory of the cells that make the antibodies. It is during a subsequent pregnancy that the mother’s antibodies could react with the red blood cells of a new Rh-positive fetus. This reaction can destroy a significant number of the fetus’s red blood cells and cause a miscarriage or severe jaundice in the newborn.

Hemolysis can also occur like this as a result of a transfusion of “foreign” blood, but special precautions taken by blood banks before any transfusion significantly limit this possibility.

Term of the Week

Predictive medicine

Medicine that links medical knowledge with data to predict a patient’s potential health problems. Examples include artificial intelligence and genetics.