Research Article

Deaths from rhesus haemolytic disease in England and Wales in 1982 and 1983.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 291 doi: (Published 06 July 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;291:17
  1. C A Clarke,
  2. P L Mollison,
  3. A G Whitfield


    Examination of death certificates and the clinical notes of the patients concerned showed that the number of deaths from rhesus (D) haemolytic disease in England and Wales was 44 and 34 during 1982 and 1983, respectively, a substantial decrease from the figure of 106 for 1977. Of the 78 women whose infants died in 1982 and 1983, 49 had not received anti-Rh immunoglobulin after previous pregnancies with Rh positive infants; most of these deaths would presumably have been prevented had postnatal anti-Rh immunoglobulin been given. In 13 women anti-D was detected during, or immediately after, a first pregnancy, and in 15 women rhesus immunisation developed despite administration of anti-Rh immunoglobulin postnatally. One or two apparent failures of treatment may have been due to underdosage, but it must be concluded that about one third of the deaths in 1982 and 1983 could have been prevented only by giving anti-Rh immunoglobulin antenatally as well as postnatally.