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Living With Rh Incompatibility

If you have Rh-negative blood, injections of Rh immune globulin can reduce your risk of Rh incompatibility in future pregnancies. It's important to get this medicine every time you give birth to an Rh-positive baby or come in contact with Rh-positive blood.

If you're Rh-negative, your risk of problems from Rh incompatibility is higher if you were exposed to Rh-positive blood before your current pregnancy. This may have happened during:

  • An earlier pregnancy (usually during delivery). You also may have been exposed to Rh-positive blood if you had bleeding or abdominal trauma (for example, from a car accident) during the pregnancy.
  • An ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, or an induced abortion. (An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that starts outside of the uterus, or womb.)
  • A mismatched blood transfusion or blood and marrow stem cell transplant.
  • An injection or puncture with a needle or other object containing Rh-positive blood.

You also can be exposed to Rh-positive blood during certain tests, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. (For more information, go to "Who Is At Risk for Rh Incompatibility?")

Unless you were treated with Rh immune globulin after each of these events, you're at risk for Rh incompatibility during current and future pregnancies.

Let your doctor know about your risk early in your pregnancy. This allows him or her to carefully monitor your pregnancy and promptly treat any problems that arise.

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January 01, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.