BACKGROUND: A combination of antenatal and postnatal RhD prophylaxis is more effective in reducing D immunization in pregnancy than postnatal RhD prophylaxis alone. Based on the result from antenatal screening for the fetal RHD gene, antenatal RhD prophylaxis in Denmark is given only to those D− women who carry a D+ fetus. We present an evaluation of the first national clinical application of antenatal RHD screening.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: In each of the five Danish health care regions, blood samples were drawn from D− women in Gestational Week 25. DNA was extracted from the maternal plasma and analyzed for the presence of the RHD gene by real-time polymerase chain reaction targeting two RHD exons. Prediction of the fetal RhD type was compared with serologic typing of the newborn in 2312 pregnancies, which represented the first 6 months of routine analysis.
RESULTS: For the detection of fetal RHD, the sensitivity was 99.9%. The accuracy was 96.5%. The recommendation for unnecessary antenatal RhD prophylaxis for women carrying a D− fetus was correctly avoided in 862 cases (37.3%), while 39 women (1.7%) were recommended for antenatal RhD prophylaxis unnecessarily. Two RHD+ fetuses (0.087%) were not detected, and antenatal RhIG was not given.
CONCLUSION: These data represent the first demonstration of the reliability of routine antenatal fetal RHD screening in D−, pregnant women to ascertain the requirement for antenatal RhD prophylaxis. Our findings should encourage the implementation of such screening programs worldwide, to reduce the unnecessary use of RhIG.