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ISO 9001


Submitted By:
Altian Josehp R. Sienes

Submitted to:
Ms. Heidi H. Sibonga, R.N.

Date submitted:
January 5, 2010
Alternate Names :
Erythroblastosis Fetalis, Kernicterus, Hydrops Fetalis, Rh Isoimmunization

Rh incompatibility is a condition that occurs when the mother of a fetus or newborn has Rh-negative blood type and the fetus or
newborn has Rh-positive blood. This incompatible blood reaction may cause problems in a newborn as well as life-threatening
problems for future pregnancies.

What is going on in the body?

The Rh factor, or rhesus factor, is a marker that may or may not be present on the surface of a person's red blood cells. When a woman
has the Rh component in her blood, she is considered Rh positive. When she does not have the Rh factor, she is considered Rh
negative. When a person who has Rh-negative blood is exposed to Rh-positive blood, that person's body does not recognize the Rh
factor and considers it something foreign. The body builds antibodies against it as it would for any foreign substance that is introduced
into the blood.
If the person who is Rh negative is ever exposed in the future to Rh-positive blood, his or her body is armed to attack the red blood
cells that have the Rh factor. Problems may arise if a woman with Rh-negative blood conceives a baby who has Rh-positive blood.
(This may occur if the father of the baby has Rh-positive blood.) The pregnant woman's body can become sensitive to the Rh factor and
build up "antibodies" to attack the Rh factor.

The build up of antibodies does not usually occur until after delivery of the newborn. However, not all women develop antibodies to
the Rh factor after having one baby with Rh-positive blood. Generally, there is no effect on the first-born child. If problems occur, they
generally happen in second and later pregnancies.

Let's say a woman who is Rh negative becomes pregnant again and her unborn baby has Rh-positive blood. The Rh antibodies that the
woman may have developed during or after her first pregnancy can pass through the blood to her second baby and attack the baby's red
blood cells. This attack can cause hemolysis, which is the destruction of red blood cells. The baby may start to produce more red blood
cells in an effort to replace the ones that were destroyed.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Rh incompatibility occurs when a woman who has Rh-negative blood and a man who has Rh-positive blood conceive a baby who is Rh
positive. There is generally no risk to the first baby, but rather to future babies who have Rh-positive blood.

Previous abortions or stillbirths of a fetus that had Rh-positive blood may present a risk to a woman who is Rh negative. This exposure
to Rh-positive blood may be enough to cause her body to make antibodies to the Rh factor. Any future Rh-positive babies she may
conceive may be at risk.
What are the signs and symptoms of the disease?

Symptoms associated with Rh incompatibility in a fetus include:

 a decrease in fetal growth

 decrease in movement of the fetus
 small lungs, kidneys, and brain
 stillbirth

Symptoms of Rh incompatibility in a newborn include:

 jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes from high levels of bilirubin
 paleness of the baby's skin
 an enlarged liver and spleen
 petechiae, or a rash that looks like little bruises
 swelling of the tissues
 difficulty breathing, causing grunting and rubbing noises in the lungs
 neurological damage, such as a decreased ability to hear, see, and feel
 seizures
 poor muscle tone, decreased movement, and poor reflexes
 heart problems, including heart murmurs and swelling of the heart
 high-pitched cry
 poor sucking ability
How is the disease diagnosed?

When diagnosing Rh incompatibility, a healthcare provider will obtain a full history of the mother. This should include her blood type
and information about previous pregnancies and previous blood transfusions. A blood test should be done to check the mother's blood
type and to see if she has antibodies to the Rh factor. Also, the father should have a blood test done to determine his blood type and to
see if he has the Rh factor.

Tests of the amniotic fluid, the fluid that surrounds the fetus during pregnancy, can be done to see if there are Rh antibodies.

Tests that may be performed on a newborn include a test for Rh antibodies and a blood count from the cord blood. Scans to evaluate the
function of the heart, liver, spleen, and brain may also be recommended.

What can be done to prevent the disease?

Rh incompatibility can be prevented by giving women an injection of something called Rho immune globulin. Rh-negative women
who are candidates for this therapy include those who
 are known to be carrying a baby that is Rh positive
 have just given birth to an Rh-positive baby
 have had a spontaneous abortion or elective abortion of a fetus who was Rh positive

It is unclear exactly how Rho immune globulin works. It is thought to prevent the woman from developing antibodies to the Rh factor.
If a woman does not develop these antibodies, then there may be little risk to any future Rh-positive babies she may have. This therapy
may be given just before a woman delivers her Rh-positive baby or immediately afterward. Some women may be given it both times if
the healthcare provider feels it is necessary. This therapy is very effective in reducing the chances that a woman will have problems
with future pregnancies.

An Rh-negative woman should be tested for antibodies at the first prenatal visit, at 24 weeks, 28 weeks, 32 weeks, and 36 weeks of her
pregnancy. All Rh-positive women should be tested for antibodies if they have had blood transfusions, a baby with jaundice, a
stillbirth, abortion, or problems with the placenta in the past.

What are the long-term effects of the disease?

The long-term effects of Rh incompatibility depend on whether the woman was given Rh immune globulin or any other treatment
during the pregnancy. When severe Rh incompatibility goes untreated, many infants die at a very early age.

The infants that do survive may suffer from severe nerve problems including cerebral palsy and mental retardation. Others suffer from
hydrops fetalis. Hydrops fetalis causes the destruction of large amounts of red blood cells. This leads to severe anemia, or low red
blood cell count. Also, these infants may have swelling of tissues and organs in the body that can lead to death. Kernicterus is another
condition in which high levels of bilirubin build up in the brain. This leads to serious brain damage.

What are the risks to others?

Rh incompatibility poses a high risk for future pregnancies and fetuses if left undiagnosed and untreated. However, with early prenatal
care and appropriate therapy with Rho immune globulin, the risk to women and babies during future pregnancies is very low.

What are the treatments for the disease?

The main treatment for Rh incompatibility is the Rho immune globulin. It is given by injection to the mother at 28 weeks and at 72
hours after delivering a baby. This injection may also be given after abortions or other terminated pregnancies. This gamma globulin,
also known as RhoGam, prevents the formation of antibodies that may affect other pregnancies.

Other procedures that may be necessary for treatment include:

 planned delivery, via cesarean section or induced labor

 phenobarbital given several weeks before delivery to lower the bilirubin level in the blood of the newborn
 exchange transfusion, which is a blood transfusion in which fresh group 0, RH negative blood is given to an unborn fetus in
exchange for his or her blood
 infusion of albumin, a protein, to decrease bilirubin levels
 phototherapy, a procedure in which the newborn is placed under special lights, to help decrease the level of bilirubin in the blood

Depending on the degree of Rh incompatibility, the child may need physical therapy and a ventilator, or artificial breathing machine,
for breathing difficulties.
What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects of medications include stomach upset, rash, and allergic reaction. Side effects of blood transfusions may include lethargy,
muscle twitching, bleeding, and reaction to the blood being transfused. Many of the therapies may interfere with parent bonding.
Encouraging parent bonding between treatments and making adjustments so parents can partake in care of their baby when possible
will allow for more parent bonding.

What happens after treatment for the disease?

When the incompatibility is diagnosed and treated quickly, the infant may recover quickly without further problems, or with exchange
transfusion. Infants who developed more severe Rh reactions and are untreated may suffer severe nerve or brain damage, requiring life-
long treatment with therapy to adjust to the world physically, mentally, and medically.

How is the disease monitored?

The healthcare provider should be contacted if an infant who has been exposed to Rh incompatability develops a fever, yellowing of
the skin, poor appetite, poor weight gain, or inconsolable crying.


Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, Fauci et al, 1998

Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery, H. Griffith, M.D, 2000

Current Pediatric Diagnosis and Treatment, Hathaway, Hay, Groothuis, Paisley, 1993

Professional Guide to Diseases, Springhouse, 1995

Sagraves R, Letassy NA, Barton TL. Obstetrics. In: Young LY, Koda-Kimble MA, eds.Applied Therapeutics- The clinical use of
drugs, 6th ed. Vancouver,Washington:Applied Therapeutics, Inc. 1995:44-20 to 44-22.

Alternate Names :
Cervical Incompetence

An incompetent cervix is a cervix that is too weak to stay closed during pregnancy. An incompetent cervix can cause miscarriage or premature labor with delivery of a premature

What is going on in the body?

The normal cervix begins to open after about nine months of pregnancy. It starts to open only in response to uterine contractions just before birth. But an incompetent cervix begins
to open and thin out before contractions have begun and before a pregnancy has reached term. The cause is a weakness in the cervix. The weakened cervix opens because of
growing pressure from the uterus as pregnancy progresses.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Following are factors that increase the likelihood of an incompetent cervix:

 an abnormally formed cervix or uterus because of a birth defect, which may occur, for example, if a woman's mother took a drug called diethylstilbestrol, or DES, while she was
 damage to the cervix, such as during a previous birth
 previous surgery on the cervix, such as a cervical biopsy or a dilatation and curettage, or D & C

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

The main sign of an incompetent cervix is painless opening of the cervix without labor. It is most common between the third and seventh months of pregnancy. There may be
vaginal spotting or bleeding. The amniotic membrane, also called the "bag of waters," then ruptures. This usually causes the loss of the fetus. Without treatment, future pregnancies
are likely to be affected as well.

How is the condition diagnosed?

An incompetent cervix is diagnosed when the woman begins to have symptoms. A physical exam by the healthcare provider will show the cervix beginning to shorten and dilate, or
open. A pregnancy ultrasound, an X-ray test that uses sound waves, may also be done.

What can be done to prevent the condition?

If a woman has no history of an incompetent cervix, it usually cannot be prevented. After the diagnosis is made, treatment is available for future pregnancies.

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

The long-term effects of an incompetent cervix are premature labor and miscarriage with each pregnancy. The emotional suffering after one or more miscarriages can be severe.
Treatment is often successful in allowing full-term pregnancy and normal delivery.

What are the risks to others?

An incompetent cervix is not contagious and poses risks only to the mother and baby.
What are the treatments for the condition?

A cervical cerclage can be used during future pregnancies to prevent miscarriage in a woman with an incompetent cervix. A cerclage is a stitch inserted around the cervix to prevent
it from opening too early. The procedure is usually done 14 to 16 weeks into the pregnancy. The woman may be put on bed rest for a short period of time. The cerclage can be
removed at the time of delivery, or it can be left in place if a cesarean section is done.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects of the surgical procedure to do the cerclage include bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia. Here is a list of the most common possible side effects of a

 premature rupture of the membranes, or water breaking

 infection of the uterus, fetal membranes, or fetus
 premature labor
 injury to the cervix

What happens after treatment for the condition?

After a cerclage, the woman is kept on bed rest for 24 hours. She will be monitored for any uterine contractions, or labor. She will be advised to get plenty of rest each day and to
decrease her physical activity for the remainder of her pregnancy. Vaginal intercourse should be avoided until after delivery. The stitch is most often removed just before the baby is

How is the condition monitored?

The woman will need to be followed closely throughout her pregnancy to check on the condition of the cervix. Prenatal visits will be more frequent than usual. The woman should
tell her healthcare provider right away if she has any contractions or leaking of fluid from the vagina. Any other new or worsening symptoms should also be reported to the
healthcare provider.

Introduction to Maternity and Pediatric Nursing, E Thompson, 1995.