Fetal anemia in pregnancy
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Fetal anemia is a problem that occurs during pregnancy, when the quantity and quality of red blood cells in the baby's circulatory system are inadequate. If the anemia reaches an extremely advanced stage without being treated, the heart of the fetus may stop. Fortunately, timely medical treatment helps the mother bring a healthy baby to the world.
Like any other condition of the unborn baby, fetal anemia can lead to many complications and range from mild to severe and very severe. In the most adverse circumstances, the baby's heart may give in due to the very strong palpitations triggered by the insufficient number of red blood cells.
Causes of fetal anemia
The most common cause of fetal anemia is the incompatibility of blood antigens and proteins between mother and fetus. This happens when the baby inherits the father's antigens, which the mother does not have. As a result, the pregnant body begins to generate antibodies that attack fetal cells.
The situation described above occurs when the mother has a blood group with negative HR, and the father with positive HR. The baby is 50% likely to have the father's RH factor and be perceived by the mother's antibodies as an intruder, crossing the placenta and attacking the red blood cells of the unborn baby.
Another cause of fetal anemia is maternal infections, caused by viruses such as parvovirus. A series of blood tests can be performed to detect previous infections suffered by the mother.
In conclusion, fetal anemia is also a result of blood loss in the circulatory system of the baby. Doctors have discovered over time a number of fetal abnormalities that lead to anemia, such as the sacro-coccigiate teratoma, an embryonic tumor with a potentially lethal potential.
Diagnosis of fetal anemia
Prenatal ultrasound can detect signs of unborn baby's heart disease and other symptoms that lead to fetal anemia. Cardiac arrest comes from the effort of the heart to make up for the lack of red blood cells. The doctor may also detect anemia of the fetus whose blood flow is higher in one of the blood vessels of the brain, the middle cerebral artery.
A sample from the maternal blood can be analyzed to detect certain antibodies that threaten the proper development of the fetus. At the same time, amniocentesis is useful for determining the level of bilirubin (a substance that is produced by the destruction of red blood cells) in the amniotic fluid.
Also, the doctor can take a sample from the blood of the fetus through a procedure similar to amniocentesis, by inserting a needle through the mother's abdomen into the umbilical vein of the baby. Once the sample is obtained, the fetus's blood can then be carefully examined for anemia. The method involves a certain risk of miscarriage, infection and premature birth.
Treatment of fetal anemia
Fetal anemia is monitored and treated during the prenatal period for several months. If the disease has a moderate to severe degree, fetal blood sampling and a transfusion may be necessary. The procedure will be repeated at an interval of 1-4 weeks, depending on how the health of the fetus evolves.
What happens after birth
Newborns who have been treated for fetal anemia recover after birth, but some of them may suffer from jaundice, a disease caused by too much bilirubin (a substance contained in red blood cells).
Prevention of fetal anemia
If fetal anemia is the product of Rh incompatibility, the simplest way to prevent the disease is to perform a blood test by the mother before conception or in the first weeks of pregnancy to show whether she has positive or negative HR.
If it is concluded that there is a danger of conflict between the pregnant woman and the fetus, the vaccine with the immunoglobulin anti-D will be given in the weeks 28 and 34 of gestation, as well as 72 hours before the birth. In addition, in the case of the first pregnancy, caesarean birth is recommended, in order to prevent the accentuated mixing of the mother's blood with that of the baby.
Maternal infections that are sometimes responsible for fetal anemia can be detected by performing tests before and at the beginning of pregnancy so that they can be treated in a timely manner.
Performing regular medical checks is the safest method of preventing fetal anemia.
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