Haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn

Vox Sang. 2015 Aug;109(2):99-113. doi: 10.1111/vox.12265. Epub 2015 Apr 20.


Haemolytic Disease of the Fetus and Newborn (HDFN) is caused by maternal alloimmunization against red blood cell antigens. In severe cases, HDFN may lead to fetal anaemia with a risk for fetal death and to severe forms of neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia with a risk for kernicterus. Most severe cases are caused by anti-D, despite the introduction of antental and postnatal anti-D immunoglobulin prophylaxis. In general, red blood cell antibody screening programmes are aimed to detect maternal alloimmunization early in pregnancy to facilitate the identification of high-risk cases to timely start antenatal and postnatal treatment. In this review, an overview of the clinical relevance of red cell alloantibodies in relation to occurrence of HDFN and recent views on prevention, screening and treatment options of HDFN are provided.

Keywords: RBC antigens and antibodies; alloimmunisation in pregnancy; anti-D prophylaxis; fetal genotyping; haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Erythroblastosis, Fetal / diagnosis
  • Erythroblastosis, Fetal / immunology*
  • Erythroblastosis, Fetal / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System / immunology


  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System