Rh immune globulin (WinRho) is a blood product that is given when you’re at risk of forming antibodies. This can happen if you’re Rh negative and are pregnant, or could someday become pregnant. Antibodies are proteins your body makes to protect itself when it reacts with something that it doesn’t recognize.
These antibodies can form with:
There are 4 different blood types (A, B, AB, and O). There’s also an antigen called the Rh factor. If you have the Rh factor on your cells, you’re Rh positive. If you don’t have the Rh factor on your cells, you’re Rh negative.
Only about 15 out of 100 people are Rh negative. Being Rh negative has no effect on your general health, but can cause problems during pregnancy.
If you’re Rh negative, your body makes antibodies if your blood is exposed to Rh positive blood. This can happen during pregnancy or with a blood transfusion.
If you’re pregnant, some of your baby’s blood may come in contact with your blood. This is normal. If this happens, antibodies can form.
If you’re pregnant and Rh negative and your partner is Rh positive, then your baby might be Rh positive too. You’re then at risk for making Rh antibodies.
Antibodies can cross the placenta and cause a problem for your baby. This is called hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN). HDN can cause:
HDN can be prevented more than 9 out of 10 times if you’re Rh negative with injections of Rh Immune Globulin (RHIG). In Canada, the product used is called WinRho.
RhIG is given when:
RHIG is given with each pregnancy. It helps protect your baby in each of your pregnancies.
Once your body makes antibodies, they don’t go away. Every time you get pregnant, the risk to your baby is more serious.
RhIG is a blood product. Steps are taken to make it safe.
RhIG has been used in Canada since 1968 with very few serious effects reported. If you have questions, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.
If you don’t get RhIG, there’s a 3 in 25 chance that your body will make Rh antibodies that can harm your baby. The risk goes up with each pregnancy.
Most people who get RhIG don’t have side effects. Rarely, RhIG can cause:
RhIG is the only way to prevent HDN caused by the Rh factor. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.
Current as of: April 7, 2021
Author: Transfusion Medicine Safety Program, Alberta Health Services
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