A retrospective study to determine the risk of red cell alloimmunization and transfusion during pregnancy

Transfusion. 1993 Mar;33(3):217-20. doi: 10.1046/j.1537-2995.1993.33393174447.x.


A retrospective review of post-delivery antibody records was performed at a teaching hospital and a community hospital to determine the frequency of new red cell alloantibody production and transfusion during pregnancy. If alloantibody was undetected at delivery, it was assumed that alloimmunization had not occurred. When antibody was detected, a chart review was performed to determine if the antibody was present at the beginning of the pregnancy or was newly produced during the pregnancy. A total of 17,568 pregnancies were reviewed. Antibody was detected at delivery in 948 (5.4%) cases, of which 89.5 percent (848/948) involved passive anti-D or clinically insignificant antibodies. The remaining 100 pregnancies involved clinically significant IgG antibodies. In 58 pregnancies, the antibody was detected in the first trimester, and in 42, new antibody production occurred during the pregnancy. Thus, the prevalence of new antibody production during pregnancy was 0.24 percent (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.17-0.32). Transfusion records indicated that the prevalence of transfusions during pregnancy was 0.09 percent (95% CI, 0.04-0.14). None of the women with new alloantibody formation during their pregnancies required transfusion; hence, new alloantibody production and the need for transfusion appear to be independent events. The probability of these events occurring together was 2.1 x 10(-6), or 1 in 500,000 deliveries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Blood Grouping and Crossmatching
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoantibodies / blood*
  • Isoantibodies / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood*
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Transfusion Reaction*


  • Isoantibodies