Fetal Hemoglobin Testing

Alternate Names

  • Kleihauer-Betke Test

Fetal hemoglobin may be found in a pregnant woman's blood if there is a leakage of blood from the baby through the blood vessels of the placenta. The leakage of blood can be due to very small and insignificant leaks or to larger and more serious leaks caused by trauma, amniocentesis, or early detachment of the placenta (placental abruption). This testing is very important when the mother is Rh negative and the baby is Rh positive, since the mother's blood will develop antibodies against the baby's blood. This will have an impact on future pregnancies, and can result in hemolytic disease of the newborn. The mother will be given RhoGAM which contains antibodies to quickly kill fetal blood cells before the mother's body has a chance to develop her own antibodies. RhoGAM is usually given before delivery, when the chance of mother/baby blood intermixing is high.

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