Research Article

Prevention of Rh haemolytic disease.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 08 July 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:106
  1. L A Tovey,
  2. J Murray,
  3. B J Stevenson,
  4. J M Taverner


    Between 1970 and 1976 in the Yorkshire region the incidence of Rh antibodies in Rh-negative pregnant women fell by 70%. This decrease occurred in both old (long-standing) and new (first-affected) cases, which emphasised that the reduction in numbers was as much due to fewer pregnancies among Rh-negative mothers as to administration of anti-D immunoglobulin. Nevertheless, the incidence has begun to level out. The continued incidence of first-affected cases is caused by three main factors: failure of administration of anti-D immunoglobulin after normal deliveries and abortions; a steady incidence of antibodies in primigravidae; and cases in which administration of anti-D immunoglobulin had failed to protect. Administering anti-D antenatally might reduce the incidence of new cases among primigravidae who are sensitised before anti-D is normally given. Even without routine antenatal administration of anti-D, the incidence of severely affected Rh babies in the Yorkshire region could be reduced to one or two isolated cases a year in a population of three to four million by administering anti-D after all Rh-negative deliveries and after every abortion.