Noninvasive prenatal diagnosis of fetal blood group phenotypes: current practice and future prospects

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Fetuses of women with alloantibodies to RhD (D) are at risk from hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn, but only if the fetal red cells are D-positive. In such pregnancies, it is beneficial to determine fetal D type, as this will affect the management of the pregnancy. It is possible to predict, with a high level of accuracy, fetal blood group phenotypes from genotyping tests on fetal DNA. The best source is the small quantity of fetal DNA in the blood of pregnant women, as this avoids the requirement for invasive procedures of amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Many laboratories worldwide now provide noninvasive fetal D genotyping as a routine service for alloimmunized women, and some also test for c, E, C and K.In many countries, anti-D immunoglobulin injections are offered to D-negative pregnant women, to reduce the chances of prenatal immunization, even though up to 40% of these women will have a D-negative fetus. High-throughput, noninvasive fetal D genotyping technologies are being developed so that unnecessary treatment of pregnant women can be avoided. Trials suggest that fetal D typing of all D-negative pregnant women is feasible and should become common practice in the near future.

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