History and current standard of postnatal management in hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn

Derek P. De Winter*, Christian Hulzebos, Renske M. Van ‘t Oever, Masja De Haas, Ejt (Joanne) Verweij, Enrico Lopriore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Since the discovery of the Rh blood group system in 1940, a greater understanding of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN) was gained. In the years thereafter, researchers and clinicians came to the current understanding that fetal and neonatal red blood cells (RBC) are hemolyzed by maternal alloantibodies directed against RBC antigens potentially leading to severe disease. Preventative measures, such as Rhesus(D) immunoprophylaxis (RhIG), have greatly decreased the prevalence of Rh(D)-mediated HDFN, although a gap between high-income countries and middle- to low-income countries was created largely due to a lack in availability and high costs of RhIG. Other important developments in the past decades have improved the identification, monitoring, and care of pregnancies, fetuses, and neonates with HDFN. Prenatally, fetal anemia may occur and intrauterine transfusions may be needed. Postnatally, pediatricians should be aware of the (antenatally determined) risk of hemolysis in RBC alloimmunization and should provide treatment for hyperbilirubinemia in the early phase and monitor for anemia in the late phase of the disease. Through this review, we aim to provide an overview of important historic events and to provide hands-on guidelines for the delivery and postnatal management of neonates with HDFN. Secondarily, we aim to describe recent scientific findings and evidence gaps. Conclusion: Multiple developments have improved the identification, monitoring, and care of pregnancies and neonates with HDFN throughout the centuries. Pediatricians should be aware of the (antenatally determined) risk of hemolysis in RBC alloimmunization and should provide treatment for hyperbilirubinemia in the early phase and monitor for late anemia in the late phase of the disease. Future studies should be set in an international setting and ultimately aim to eradicate HDFN on a global scale.What is Known:• Developments have led to a greater understanding of the pathophysiology, an improved serological identification and monitoring of at-risk cases and the current pre- and postnatal treatment.What is New:• This review provides the pediatrician with hands-on guidelines for the delivery and postnatal management of neonates with HDFN.• Future studies should be set in an international setting with the ultimate aim of eradicating HDFN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489–500
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Early online date5-Dec-2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Alloimmunization
  • Anemia
  • Exchange transfusion
  • Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn
  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • Phototherapy

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