ABO Incompatibility

What is ABO Incompatibility?

ABO incompatibility is a pregnancy related as well as blood related problem; its an immune system reaction.

If allowed to go untreated or un-diagnosed, it can be life threatening for the baby.

This is the reason couples should take all the blood tests that are advised by their doctor when they conceive or are planning to start a family.

So that complications if any can be recognized at an early stage and treatment or precautions can start at the earliest.

If reports confirm that the blood groups of mother is likely to create complications, necessary precautions can be taken well in time to lead them to have healthy and hassle free pregnancy.

How to Diagnose ABO Incompatibility?

When a pregnant woman is suspected of ABO Incompatibility she may be asked to do tests to know her Bilirubin level, along with CBC test – Complete Blood Count.

This test helps the doctor to know the extent to which Red Blood cells have been damaged. Another test is performed if there is donor egg involved; in such a case donor’s blood type is checked and matched with parents.

General details about the Problem: ABO incompatibility problem is seen to occur in the newborns wherein baby and mother’s blood types are different, i.e. mother’s blood type is O and the baby’s type is either A, B, or AB.

In ABO incompatibility pregnancies where babies born before due date, are likely to suffer severely than babies who are healthy and are born after completing full term.

Another thing that has come to light is that if mother’s blood type is O and baby’s is B, the condition is seen as more severe than when mom’s blood type is O and baby’s is A. T

his phenomenon is still under research and study but whatever has come out of the samples already in hand think that it holds true to a great extent.

Is ABO Incompatibility Dangerous for The Child?

ABO incompatibility can become a very serious and result on death of child. However, if diagnosed in time, and with right treatment, full recovery is possible.

If not treated in time baby can be born with anaemia or jaundice.

There have been few cases when the baby has needed blood transfusion. As a result of ABO, infants have also suffered kidney failure, low blood pressure, intensive monitoring and care, and worst case is where the child has not been able to survive the crises and has died at birth.

ABO Incompatibility does not reduce fertility in a woman, in peculiarly complex cases chances of foetal loss may however increase.

What happens in ABO incompatibility;

Is that mother with Blood Type O produces antibodies, called anti-A and anti-B antibodies.

So when mum’s blood type is O and baby’s blood type is A, B or AB, there is a probability that either of these antibodies will make their way through placenta during pregnancy or at birth and will attack baby’s red blood cells.

As a result of break down red blood cells, Bilirubin level will starts building up; causing Jaundice or anaemia in the newborns.

What If Baby’s Blood Type is O in Case of ABO Incompatibility?

If baby’s blood type is O and so is mom’s then there will be no ABO incompatibility problem.

It is also true that not all children with an ABO incompatibility will need treatment. While some may require full fledged photo-therapy especially in cases where baby’s jaundice is severe, which continues until the time mother’s antibodies get wiped out completely from baby’s body, for other healthy babies it can be a self healing process that takes place on its own after a few days of baby being born.

Symptoms of ABO Incompatibility

The symptoms related to ABO incompatible transfusion reactions include pain in the back; presence of blood in urine; feeling low; having fever; skin turning yellowish.


If a woman suffers from ABO incompatibility, doctors should make it clear to the pregnant woman in advance, along with why babies get it, because nursing a yellowish and pale baby with high Bilirubin level is more than enough to freak out a new mom or if it goes unnoticed, life can get complicated.

Treatment Options for ABO Incompatibility

Treatment can include medicinal courses comprising drugs that could be prescribed to treat allergic reactions; drugs as in steroids for treating swelling, or allergies; intravenous fluids; medicines can be prescribed to bring up BP level if it has fallen low.

If a woman has suffered ABO incompatibility in her first pregnancy the doctor will fasten the cord while the delivery is underway or after the procedure which will help to avoid such a situation when she gives birth to her next baby in future.

When cord is clamped mother’s blood cannot come in contact or mix with the unborn and this helps to prevent jaundice in your future pregnancies.

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