For expectant mothers, one of the prenatal tests that need to be done is antibody screening or immunity test. The purpose of an immunity test is to look for specific antibodies or proteins that are specially made by the immune system. These antibodies can be obtained through donor blood or previous delivery. In addition, antibody substances can also appear when there is a mismatch between the mother’s and baby’s blood groups.
Some antibodies can be passed from the mother to the baby’s bloodstream, where this can harm the baby’s condition. That is why immunity tests are carried out if there are indications, one of which is the difference in rhesus. This test is very useful for determining the baby’s protective measures to take immediately.
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Why Is Immunity Test Done?
The immune system works to form antibodies to fight things that are considered foreign. This is very useful because antibodies can target germs and viruses. Because during pregnancy , the immune system is directly related to the fetus in the womb. The problem arises when there is a difference between the mother’s red blood cells and the baby’s blood cells.
By far, the most common case is rhesus (Rh) difference. Someone who is Rh-positive means that they have protein in red blood cells, while Rh-negative people do not. Therefore, the difference between mother and baby rhesus can trigger antibodies to attack Rh-positive blood cells that enter the body.
If the mother is Rh negative and the baby is Rh-positive, the mother’s blood may have Rh antibodies that can spread to the baby’s blood. These blood cells can attack and destroy the baby’s red blood cells. This condition causes a very serious type of anemia and can be fatal. The mother’s body also may make other antibodies that can attack the baby’s red blood cells. That is why immunity tests need to be done to avoid the risk of the above conditions.
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How Is Immunity Test Performed?
Pregnant women need to have their blood group checked early in pregnancy, to be precise at their first prenatal visit. If the mother is Rh-negative, antibody tests will need to be done during the first three months of pregnancy. To collect a sample, a doctor or laboratory worker uses a syringe to take a blood sample from a vein in the hand or arm. Then the sample will be examined in the laboratory.
A negative immunity test result indicates that the mother does not have harmful antibodies in the blood. However, if the immunity test results are positive, the mother is Rh-negative and the baby is likely to have Rh-positive results from the father. After that, the doctor gives you an injection of a drug called immunoglobulin to stop the immune system from making Rh antibodies.
The doctor will continue to closely monitor the development of the mother and baby to prevent other problems. If there are problems during pregnancy, the baby should be born early or get a blood transfusion through the umbilical cord.