Rh Incompatibility in Pregnancy
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Rh factor is a protein found on the outside of Rh-positive red blood cells. Rh incompatibility during pregnancy occurs when an Rh-negative mother is pregnant with an Rh-positive fetus. During delivery, the fetus' Rh-positive blood is introduced into the mother’s body. The Rh-negative mother’s body begins to produce antibodies that attack and kill Rh-positive blood cells. Since the crossover of blood normally occurs during delivery, an Rh-negative woman’s first pregnancy is normally not affected. However, the woman’s antibodies may attack a second Rh-positive fetus as those antibodies can cross into the bloodstream and destroy fetal Rh-positive blood cells.