Rhesus Intolerance

By | June 8, 2022

Rhesus intolerance, also known colloquially as blood group intolerance, primarily affects pregnant women and their unborn children in the second pregnancy. In the case of Rh intolerance, the Rhesus factor in the mother’s blood does not match that of the unborn child, which can lead to significant health complications in the baby. During the regular check-ups during pregnancy, the gynecologist checks the risk of the mother and the baby based on the maternal blood count and with the help of ultrasound examinations. In this way, as a precautionary measure, treatment can be initiated against a possible Rhesus intolerance.

What is rhesus intolerance?

Rh incompatibility refers to an incompatibility between the blood types of a pregnant woman and her unborn child, which is related to the Rhesus factor. This can be either positive or negative. For about hyperglycemia, please visit bittranslators.com.

Rhesus intolerance, which is dangerous for the unborn child, always occurs in a woman’s second pregnancy. The prerequisite for rhesus intolerance is that the mother carries the rhesus factor negative (Rh negative) in her blood. The unborn baby and his father, on the other hand, tested positive for Rhesus.

About 15 to 20 percent of Europeans are Rhesus negative, while all others are Rhesus positive. Due to the different Rh factors in the mother and the unborn child, the woman’s immune system shows a reaction to the baby’s red blood cells in the second pregnancy, which is known as Rh intolerance.


Rh incompatibility in the second pregnancy occurs when there is blood contact between the Rhesus negative mother and the Rhesus positive child during the birth of the first baby.

The father must be Rhesus positive in this constellation. As a result of this blood contact, antibodies against the positive Rhesus factor of the child develop in the mother’s blood, which can lead to significant health problems in the baby.

If a pregnant woman has already suffered a miscarriage or received a blood transfusion, caution against Rhesus intolerance is also required in the first pregnancy, as antibodies may already have formed.

In these cases, Rhesus-negative women are treated prophylactically in the first pregnancy against Rhesus intolerance.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Rhesus intolerance (morbus haemolyticus) can occur in two ways: in the first child through contact with the mother’s blood, in the second through the maternal immune system recognizing certain blood group characteristics or Thesus factors in the child’s blood as incompatible during pregnancy. The symptoms are identical in both cases.

One of the main characteristics of rhesus intolerance is anemia. This is indicated by signs such as strikingly pale skin or a lack of oxygen in the child’s organism. The reason for this is the low number of red blood cells. The red blood cells are the units that can absorb and transport oxygen.

Organs such as the liver or spleen can enlarge due to increased blood formation. The latter seeks to compensate for the anemia. The increased breakdown of blood cells can lead to increased bilirubin release into the blood of the newborn. This is reflected in the classic symptoms of jaundice in the newborn.

At this stage, at the latest, medical treatment must begin. Because the continued increase in bilirubin can lead to bilirubin deposits in the child’s brain. As a result of severe anemia, lasting symptoms such as child development blocks or hearing problems can arise.

An often fatal rhesus intolerance, hydrops fetalis, is indicated by water retention in the child’s body. These symptoms often end fatally before birth.

Diagnosis & History

Rh intolerance is diagnosed by analyzing the blood group and Rhesus factor in maternal blood at the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy. This examination is part of the usual prenatal care that the gynecologist carries out.

In addition, the gynecologist monitors the development of the unborn child with the help of ultrasound examinations. With these, he can detect abnormalities such as edema or hydrops fetalis, which can be traced back to Rh incompatibility. If a Rhesus-negative woman has already formed antibodies in the blood as a result of a previous pregnancy, a blood transfusion or a miscarriage, early treatment of the Rhesus intolerance is absolutely necessary.

Otherwise serious damage to the baby, such as anemia, brain damage or water retention, can result. With timely treatment, there is little risk for the infant of suffering permanent damage from rhesus intolerance.


In modern medicine, complications due to rhesus intolerance are rare thanks to comprehensive preventive care and prophylaxis. A rhesus intolerance must be treated because otherwise the child’s life is in danger. When antibodies enter the child’s bloodstream from the mother, they attach themselves to the child’s red blood cells and destroy them. The number of red blood cells decreases and triggers anemia in the child (haemolytic anemia).

The resulting lack of oxygen in the body of the unborn child can promote developmental disorders and damage to organs. As the red blood cells are broken down, the bone marrow, liver and spleen try to counteract the loss and swell as a result. As a result, the liver becomes overloaded, swelling impairs blood flow, and water leaks from the blood into the child’s body tissues. This accumulation of fluid is visible on ultrasound. If left untreated, the child can die in the womb.

After birth, there is a risk of a lack of oxygen due to anemia . Excessive jaundice can also occur, which must be treated to prevent the breakdown products from building up in the brain and causing serious neurological damage. If this severe jaundice is not treated appropriately by experienced doctors, the child’s life is in acute danger.

When should you go to the doctor?

The earliest case where a doctor will intervene is when an expectant Rhesus-negative mother fails to produce antibodies during her second pregnancy. In this case, Rhesus intolerance is prevented with a Rhesus prophylaxis measure between the 28th and 30th week of pregnancy.

As part of medical prophylaxis, the expectant mother in the 28th-30th week of pregnancy and within 72 hours after birth anti-D immunoglobins or antibodies are injected. This destroys the baby’s Rh-positive blood cells, which are in the mother’s circulation. This prophylactic measure does not harm the unborn child, as the antibodies are broken down quickly. It only ensures that the maternal organism does not produce any antibodies.

If a newborn has rhesus intolerance, it depends on the severity of this phenomenon. Medical treatment is unavoidable in most cases, as it leads to anemia and jaundice. For a milder case of Rh intolerance, blue light phototherapy may be sufficient. The effect is that the bilirubin molecules can be broken down and excreted. Failure to do so could result in brain damage to the newborn.

In a severe case of Rh intolerance, blood transfusions are essential. In such cases, transfusions may become necessary even during pregnancy. Today, thanks to medical advances, something can be done to ensure that both survive.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of rhesus intolerance already takes place during the first pregnancy. In the 28th week of pregnancy, the expectant mother with a negative rhesus factor receives rhesus factor antibodies as a preventive measure, which prevent rhesus intolerance from developing.

These anti-D immunoglobulins, i.e. the antibodies, are given again within three days after the birth of the Rhesus-positive baby. This repeated administration prevents the child from being at risk from Rhesus intolerance in a subsequent pregnancy.

In order to rule out the risk of Rh intolerance, an antibody screening test is also carried out in the mother’s blood during pregnancy. If there are any abnormalities, timely action can be taken to rule out rhesus intolerance and minimize the risks for the unborn child.

If complications occur, there can be different consequences for the newborn. If the rhesus intolerance is rather mild, phototherapy or blood transfusion for the newborn baby is usually sufficient. In the case of severe forms such as hydrops fetalis, the newborn baby must be treated in intensive care to ensure survival despite rhesus intolerance.


In order to prevent rhesus intolerance, it is essential that pregnant women are regularly examined by a gynaecologist. The risk of rhesus intolerance can be almost entirely ruled out by blood tests on the mother and ultrasound checks on the unborn child.


In the case of rhesus intolerance, no special or direct aftercare measures are usually possible, and sometimes these are not even necessary. Those affected should request a diagnosis at an early stage and initiate treatment so that complications or other symptoms do not arise as the disease progresses. The sooner the rhesus intolerance is recognized, the better the further course of the disease is usually.

Therefore, a doctor should be consulted at the first signs and symptoms of the disease. Treatment is usually only necessary after the birth of the child. Before the birth and during pregnancy, however, further examinations and regular check-ups by a doctor are very important. The children are dependent on taking various medications.

This significantly alleviates the symptoms and also prevents complications. Sometimes the parents are dependent on the support and help of friends and family. This can prevent depression and other mental disorders from developing. The further course of rhesus intolerance depends heavily on the time of diagnosis, although the life expectancy of the person affected is usually not reduced by the disease.

You can do that yourself

In the case of rhesus intolerance, it is essential to seek medical assistance. The options available to doctors are life-saving when the organism is intolerant. Otherwise there is a risk of the premature death of mother or child. In severe cases and if treatment is refused, the death of mother and child can occur.

The alternative healing methods or home remedies do not work in this area. Since it is a problem and incompatibility of the blood groups, the administration of medication is absolutely necessary. Therefore, in the case of an existing pregnancy, cooperation with a doctor should be sought and maintained. Already at the first irregularities, a feeling of discomfort or a vague feeling of illness, consultation with a doctor should be sought. This is the only way to ensure that the necessary measures and controls of the state of health are initiated at an early stage.

There are no other approaches that fall within the area of ​​self-help when it comes to rhesus intolerance. If the pregnant woman sticks to the treatment options, there are hardly any complications or side effects to be expected these days. Thanks to the medical possibilities, both mother and child survive in this day and age.

Rhesus Intolerance