Risks to your baby if you have Blood Type O

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Do you know what you're blood type is? Not all blood types were created equally, and for pregnant mums, even a difference as slight as this can have big consequences.

Mums, are you pregnant and have blood type O? If “yes”, you definitely should be aware of O positive blood type and pregnancy problems — such as  hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice) — that could affect your baby. 

Recently, one Indonesian mum — Dorinda Dewanti — learned about O positive blood type and pregnancy problems the hard way.

At first, Ms Dewanti did not know that O positive blood type and pregnancy problems can arise from different maternal and fetus blood types. Dori’s blood type was O, whereas her son, Lantang’s blood type was B positive.  

“Initially, I thought that increased billirubin levels in babies was a normal occurrence. However, after a bit of research, I realised that different blood groups between the mother and baby can cause O-blood type pregnancy problems, such as increased billirubin levels in children. This leads to yellow jaundice in newborns. My son suffered from hyperbillirubinemia until he was 14* and had to undergo light therapy for a few days,” Dori told theAsianparent Indonesia.

Fortunately, after several days of light therapy sessions at the hospital, Lantang’s condition began to improve.

O positive blood type and pregnancy problems: What exactly are these issues? 

It is well known that blood type O is usually incompatible with other blood types. This is exactly what happens when a woman with blood type O is pregnant. 

During pregnancy, mothers with blood type O reject other blood groups. This may lead to antigenic reactions with a fetus whose blood type is not O, which results in an increase in levels of bilirubin in infants. This, in turns, lead to jaundice in newborns.

As written in Unair News by Dr. Toto Wisnu Hendrarto, a specialist paediatric doctor, Chairman of the Indonesian Paediatric Society (Work Coordination Unit II), one of the causes of raised billirubin levels in infants is the different blood types between infants and their mothers.

As it turns out, women who have blood type O have a high risk of giving birth to infants with acute-level hyperbilirubinemia.

anak kuning Risks to your baby if you have Blood Type O

O positive blood type and pregnancy problems: Babies who have a different blood type to the pregnant mum’s O-blood type can lead to problems such as jaundice. Source: File Photos

O Positive Blood Type And Pregnancy Problems: An Overview of Hyperbilirubinemia

According to Dr Toto, during pregnancy, the maternal blood transfers nutrients and oxygen to the baby via the umbilical cord.

If there is a difference in the blood types between the mother and the fetus, the mother’s blood will form antibodies to neutralise the baby’s blood type, resulting in an antigenic reaction. This condition then destroys the fetal red blood cells.

It is for this reason that Dr. Toto recommends that every pregnant woman should be aware of their blood type prior to pregnancy.

In fact, knowing the blood type is a critical step to prevent potential risks. “Once we know that the mother is blood type O, then doctors will be more vigilant about the potential dangers in the future,” says Dr Toto. 

Mythbusting: The Do’s & Dont’s of Newborn Jaundice

What NOT to Do:

Here are some common ‘treatments’ are ineffective, according to NUH Singapore (even if your mum tells you otherwise):

  • Giving water or glucose feeds: this will not not lower the jaundice, and could even be harmful to your baby’s health.
  • Exposure to sunlight:  Sunlight does not effectively reduce jaundice, according to NUH. In fact exposing your newborn’s delicate skin to sunlight could cause sunburn and dehydration.

What to Do Instead

1. Tips to manage jaundice in newborns due to differences in blood type 

If a mother with blood type O carries and gives birth to a baby with a different blood type:

  • Please undergo further examination and do NOT rush the child back home from the hospital. This is because the jaundice in an infant whose blood type differs with a maternal blood type O usually presents itself around or after the third day of birth.

2. Consult a doctor IMMEDIATELY if your baby:

  • develops jaundice during the first two days since birth
  • suffers from jaundice that spreads quickly towards the lower tummy and legs,
  • shows signs of jaundice that still persists after day 14 of life.
  • has difficulties feeding on your breast, does not pass adequate amount of stool and urine, and appears more jaundiced.
  • has stools that turn cream-beige or chalky-white OR has dark (tea-coloured) urine, and with persistent jaundice after day 14 of life.

Mums, is your blood type O while your child carries a different blood type? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

Re-published with permission from theAsianparent Indonesia. Translated and edited by Kevin Wijaya Oey and further edited by Nalika Unatenne.

References: NUHUniair news

Also read: Newborn jaundice and breastfeeding: What you need to know

*The number 14 here indicates the severity of the disease, measured in 5mg/dL. Normally infants with an initial onset of Jaundice have 5mg/dL of bilirubin, so 14 is severe enough to warrant phototherapy.