Transplacental transfer of RhD positive red cells from a RhD positive fetus into a RhD negative mother’s circulation can result in sensitization of the mother, with the development of RhD antibodies. Subsequent pregnancies in a sensitized woman could be complicated by haemolytic disease of the newborn (HDFN), if the fetuses are RhD positive. HDFN is known to cause stillbirths or severe morbidity in surviving babies. In the event of known or suspected exposure to RhD positive red cells in a Rh D negative woman the timely administration of an adequate dose of anti-D Immunoglobulin (anti-D Ig) can prevent maternal sensitization and consequent complications in subsequent pregnancies.
This GAIN sponsored audit, which was coordinated by the Northern Ireland Transfusion Committee (NITC), was undertaken to ascertain whether anti-D Ig was administered appropriately to RhD negative mothers in Northern Ireland.