Infertility, miscarriage? Check your blood grouping —Experts

Do you know that your previous lover or husband’s blood type can affect your pregnancy now?  Well, a woman’s blood type could affect her fertility and influence her chances of getting pregnant, scientists have found.

Experts warned that having a blood group that is incompatible with one’s partner can affect one’s chances of getting pregnant and having normal pregnancies in the future.

All humans have a blood group, either A, B, AB or O; that is either positive or negative, depending on whether a person has inherited a Rh (Rhesus) factor.

Rhesus factor is a protein found in red blood cells. Not all of us carry this factor and people who do are referred to as Rhesus positive and those who do not are referred to as Rhesus negative.

About 95 per cent of Nigerians is Rhesus Disease positive while the remaining five per cent are RhD negative.

Dr Kayode Obembe, a consultant obstetric and gynaecologist at Christus Specialist Hospital, stated that blood grouping could create trouble during pregnancy.

According to him, the Rh factor can cause problems if the woman is Rh negative and the unborn baby is Rh positive, which is called Rh incompatibility.

He added that these problems usually do not occur in a first pregnancy, but they can occur in other pregnancies later.

“Rhesus incompatibility is as a result of a mother developing antibodies against her baby. It will lead to the breakdown of the red blood cells in the baby. This can lead to the death of the newborn,” he added.

These antibodies can cross the placenta and break down the foetus’s red blood cells. In the developing world, such Rh incompatibility is one of the leading causes of illness and mortality in newborns.

In the newborn, Rh disease can result in jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), anaemia, brain damage, heart failure and death. It can also affect the mother’s mental state.

Dr Obembe stated that having a blood type with Rh negative factor is of concern in women rather than men because it is the mother who carries the baby in her womb.

However, he said in case of a miscarriage or abortion, women with Rh negative factor must ensure they take the Rhogam injection which is an  anti-body, to prevent the stimulation of immune reaction that can destroy the red blood cells of subsequent pregnancy in such women.

“It is important to check the blood group and Rh factor of the prospective husband and the prospective wife for compatibility or otherwise. It must be detected long before they got married,” he added.

Professor Adetunji Adeniji, a consultant obstetric and gynaecologist, LAUTECH Teaching Hospital Ogbomoso, Oyo State, corroborated that once a woman with Rh-negative factors mounts an antibody, it becomes a challenge for life, if she marries a partner with Rh positive factor.

According to Professor Adeniji, “if she gets married to an Rh positive partner and the baby she is carrying is Rh positive, the antibodies that she has developed in her own system will start attacking the blood of that baby and most of the time, the baby can die. In fact, when the dead baby is brought out, the foetus will look big due to anaemic  pregnancy.

“Now, the way out is that when a lady is negative and wants to terminate the pregnancy from a man with Rh positive, she can be given a Rhogam injection which is anti-antibody to protect her from forming an antibody against rhesus positive factor and that such an issue could be avoided in  the future.”

Professor Adeniji added that in a situatuion  where a woman repeatedly loses pregnancies, one of the factors that are ruled out is Rh factor.

“We check her blood for the antibody level to know if in the past, she had been exposed to Rh factor, which had set up antibody,” he added.

However, hope is not lost for women with Rh negative factor. He declared “the situation can be managed if you have the right facility. All they need to do for the baby is that as the baby’s blood cell is breaking down, you will be transfusing the baby in the womb

“The mother also needs to receive steroids to suppress the antibody that is formed. As soon as the baby gets to the age of viability, it is quickly delivered and managed as a child.”

He assured that it is better for every woman to know her blood group, and those that are Rh negative should be ready to take a Rhogam injection as prophylaxis against Rh issues if terminating a pregnancy or after delivery within 72 hours to be on the safe side.

The injection, he said is sold for between N7,000  and N15,000 depending on the country where it was manufactured.