Immunohematological testing and transfusion management of the prenatal patient

Adv Clin Chem. 2023:117:163-208. doi: 10.1016/bs.acc.2023.08.002. Epub 2023 Sep 19.


The primary indication for immunohematological testing in the prenatal patient is to detect and identify maternal red cell antibodies. If there are antibodies that are expected to hemolyze the fetus' red cells, their strength of reactivity must be tested, and the fetus' antigen status determined. After delivery, testing is performed to assess the extent of fetomaternal hemorrhage, as a large hemorrhage may require other therapeutic interventions. Another major role for immunohematological testing is to select blood components appropriately when intrauterine transfusion is required for fetal anemia resulting from maternal alloimmunization or some other cause. Supplementation with molecular methods has transformed the practice of immunohematology, particularly as it applies to typing for the D antigen of the Rh blood group system. Notwithstanding the advances in testing, close coordination and communication between the transfusion service and the obstetrics service are the foundation for ensuring the finest care for prenatal patients, and for new mothers and their infants. This review describes testing and transfusion practices for prenatal patients, using case presentations to highlight the management of selected immunohematological findings. It also includes a discussion of key patient management topics that are currently unresolved.

Keywords: Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn; Immunohematology; Intrauterine transfusion; Prenatal testing; Red cell antibodies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune*
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Erythroblastosis, Fetal* / diagnosis
  • Erythroblastosis, Fetal* / therapy
  • Erythrocytes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoantibodies
  • Pregnancy


  • Isoantibodies