Genetic counseling: Rhesus factor incompactibility

in steemsteem •  11 months ago

knowledge is power. Francis Bacon

image credit: Anne Edgar on Unsplash


Rhesus Factor is an antigen that exists on the surface of red blood cells in most people (about 85% of humans). It is also referred to as Rh Factor. People who have the Rh “positive” (+) blood types, such as A+, O+ or B+ are said to be rhesus Factor positive, while those who have the Rh “negative” (-) blood types, such as A–, O– or AB– are said to be rhesus factor negative . The “+” and “-” in front of the blood group is the Rhesus factor. Generally, we have A+, A–, B+, B–, AB+, AB–, O+ and O–. Rhesus factor is genetic in nature. It is inherited from the parents, emphatically the father.

image credit:,1

Rhesus agglutinogen (Rh factor)

The red cells of certain individuals contains an agglutinogen ; about 85% of people are Rhesus positive ( i.e. their blood contain this factor) and about 15% are Rhesus negative.
when a rhesus negative negative mother has babies by a Rhesus positive father she may produce rhesus positive babies and though the first child is usually normal, subsequent infants may be still-born or after birth suffer from jaundice or anemia because the mother produces antibodies to the babies in utero.
If these conditions arise after birth, the bloods of both the child and mother should be tested for the Rhesus factor, and Rhesus negative blood transfusion used for the infant. If a baby is born with severe damage due to Rh antibodies an exchange transfusion of Rh negative blood may be given via the umbilical vessels immediately after birth.

In order to prevent the activation of the antibodies, an injection called Rhogam would be administered during and after pregnancy to prevent spontaneous abortion due to Rhesus factor incompatibility. The injection is normally administered 28 weeks into pregnancy, 72 hours after delivery, after ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion. If the injection is not administered and the antibodies are activated, they would never be deactivated again!

In many African cultures up till today, women who are so unfortunate to find themselves having serial spontaneous abortions due to Rhesus factor incompatibility are considered witches by some of their people. Some of the women would accuse their in-laws of being behind their predicament.

It should also be noted that a Rh– person(man or woman) cannot receive blood donation from a Rh+ person even if they have the same blood group. The consequence of such blood transfusion is fatal. It would lead to death as the blood would clot. This is due to the incompatibility in their Rhesus factor.
Thanks for reading.

Know your Rhesus factor today!
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Image credits: Top Photo by Anne Edgar on Unsplash; Bottom, by,1


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