Noninvasive fetal blood group genotyping of rhesus D, c, E and of K in alloimmunised pregnant women: evaluation of a 7-year clinical experience

BJOG. 2011 Oct;118(11):1340-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.03028.x. Epub 2011 Jun 14.


Objective: To evaluate the diagnostic performance of noninvasive fetal blood group genotyping.

Design: Descriptive analysis.

Setting: Dutch national reference laboratory for pregnancies complicated by alloimmunisation.

Population: All consecutive alloimmunised pregnant women for whom fetal blood group genotyping of rhesus D, c, E or of K in maternal plasma was performed from 2003 up to 2010.

Methods: The test results of each individual assay were collected. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed for RHD exon 5 and RHD exon 7, or the specific allele of the RHCE or KEL gene. A stringent diagnostic algorithm was applied. In the case of a negative result, the presence of fetal DNA was ascertained by the analysis of the Y chromosome-specific SRY gene or other paternal genetic markers. Results were compared with available serology after birth or genotyping results of amniotic fluid cells.

Main outcome measures: Percentage of conclusive test results and diagnostic accuracy.

Results: A total of 362 tests was performed (D: n = 168; c: n = 49; E: n = 85; K: n = 60). The median gestational age was 17 weeks (range 7-38 weeks). In 351 women (97%), a test result was issued: in seven samples, the presence of fetal DNA could not be confirmed; in two samples, non-specific amplification in the K assay led to an inconclusive result; in two samples, a maternal silent RHD gene prevented fetal RHD genotyping. No false-positive or false-negative results were found among those women for whom cord blood serology or genotyping results of amniotic fluid cells were available (n = 212).

Conclusions: Noninvasive fetal blood group genotyping is accurate and applicable in a clinical diagnostic setting.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / blood
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / immunology*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Kell Blood-Group System / genetics*
  • Kell Blood-Group System / immunology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy / blood
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rh Isoimmunization / blood*
  • Rh Isoimmunization / diagnosis*
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System / genetics*
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System / immunology


  • Kell Blood-Group System
  • RHCE protein, human
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System
  • Rho(D) antigen
  • DNA