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Hemolytic Anemia- The Disappearance of Red Blood Cells

By Arushi Neravetla


Hemolytic anemia, the destruction of red blood cells, is a disease in which the blood breaks down at an alarming rate and affects infants nationwide with a mortality rate of 11%. Over in many hospitals, scientists have traced the ethnic makeup of the disease that generally impacts Caucasian and African-American babies from a wide scope of geographical demographics. In theory, Hemolytic Anemia is a condition of making immature red blood cells called erythroblastosis fetalis, which causes the breakdown of red blood cells to occur in a woman’s fetus.


What causes Hemolytic Anemia? Everyone is categorized into different blood types, (A, B, O, or AB), with an RH Factor. The mother’s blood type and RH Factor affect the infant mortality rate.Specifically, the disease happens when a RH negative mother has a baby with an RH positive father. If the baby’s RH factor is positive, the mother’s RH negative immune system may see the baby’s RH positive blood as suspicious when the two blood types interact with one another. In response, the mother’s immune system creates antibodies to destroy the baby’s cells.This causes the baby to be RH sensitized; as the antibodies destroy the baby’s blood cells, the baby may get sick and be diagnosed with erythroblastosis fetalis, which after birth is known as Hemolytic Anemia.


Although symptoms may occur differently in each pregnancy and can be difficult to detect, modern advancements have allowed families to take prenatal tests to detect signs of any yellow-colored amniotic fluids, edema (swelling), and enlargement of organs. By analyzing these tests, neonatologists can track further developments of the disease thus increasing the likelihood of protecting both the mother and child!


So what can be done to prevent this condition from occurring? Although symptoms may occur differently in each pregnancy and can be difficult to detect and track, healthcares providers, today, can perform prenatal tests such as a blood test to detect signs of erythroblastosis fetalis including yellow-colored amniotic fluids, edema (swelling), and enlargement of the organs. By analyzing these tests, neonatologists can track further developments of the disease, thus increasing the likelihood of protecting both the mother and child. Possible treatments might include Rh immunoglobulin (RhoGAM), a type of medication that stops the mother’s immune system from creating the antibodies. . Currently, research is still on the rise for more preventive treatments for Hemolytic Anemia and as our general medical practices continue to expand in the neonatal field, the fear of giving birth to your child shouldn’t worry our mothers day.


References:

1. “Hemolytic Anemia.” Mount Sinai Health System, https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/hemolytic-anemia.

2. “Hemolytic Anemia.” Mount Sinai Health System, https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/hemolytic-anemia.

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