In the past, there was no way to identify babies that were anemic, even though doctors knew that they might be at risk. There are several risk factors for fetal anemia, one of which includes when the mother develops antibodies to certain proteins on the surface of red blood cells which then cross the placenta and attack the baby’s red cells. This level of immunologic attack is not harmful to the mother, but it attacks the baby’s red cells which can lead to anemia in pregnancy. Additionally, there’s a virus that is relatively prevalent called fifth disease, or parvovirus. If a mother is not immune and she gets infected during the pregnancy, a small percentage (about 4% or 5%) of babies can have severe anemia because the virus attacks the fetal red cells.
These two primary conditions are associated with fetal anemia. Thankfully, there are now ways doctors can noninvasively detect the presence and severity of the condition and then treat the baby with a transfusion prior to being born under ultrasound guidance.
Learn more about fetal anemia and how fetal anemia is treated at MFM in this video. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!