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What is a RhoGAM Injection?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A RhoGAM® injection is an injection of Rh0 immunoglobulin which is given to a woman to prevent the formation of antibodies to Rh positive blood. This medication is used to prevent a complication of pregnancy known as Rhesus disease or hemolytic disease of the newborn. Women should receive a RhoGAM® injection within 72 hours of delivery, miscarriage, or termination of pregnancy if their blood is Rh negative to avoid complications in future pregnancies.

Rhesus disease is a complication caused by conflicts between blood types in the Rhesus grouping. If a woman's blood does not carry the D factor from the Rhesus grouping system, she is said to be Rh negative. If the father of a baby has the D factor, he is Rh positive, and there is a risk that the baby will be Rh positive as well. Exposure to Rh positive blood will trigger the production of antibodies, as the immune system recognizes it as a threat, which means that an Rh negative woman with a history of exposure to Rh positive blood who is pregnant with an Rh positive child could be at risk of complications because her immune system could attack the fetus.

There are two ways in which Rh negative women can be exposed to Rh positive blood. One is through a blood transfusion, although steps are taken to avoid this. The other way is through the blood of an Rh positive fetus; women who have any kind of pregnancy, whether it is terminated or carried to term, will be exposed to the fetal blood, and women can also be exposed to fetal blood as a result of abdominal trauma or during amniocentesis testing.

If a doctor believes that an Rh incompatibility might occur, she or he will recommend a RhoGAM® injection during the 28th week of pregnancy, and again after delivery. Women who miscarry and are Rh negative should also have the injection, as should women who terminate pregnancies. The injection is also recommended after amniocentesis or abdominal trauma. The RhoGAM® injection will eliminate the anti-D antibodies in the mother's blood so that if she becomes pregnant again, the baby will not be at risk.

Rhesus disease was once a very serious problem. Once the RhoGAM® injection was introduced in the 1960s, rates of Rhesus incompatibility during pregnancy declined radically, reducing risks to both mothers and babies. Today, doctors usually screen early in pregnancy for the signs of Rhesus incompatibility, typing the blood of both parents, if possible, and interviewing the mother to identify any risk factors.

Rhesus incompatibility is not an issue for Rh positive mothers with Rh negative babies.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon994679 — On Feb 28, 2016

I have received 3 Rhogam injections. I have also developed quite a few auto immune diseases. I have wondered if this is also a side effect of this injection. I have so many auto immune disorders that it has made me disabled. I would like to know if this side effect has happened to any other mothers.

By anon929886 — On Feb 03, 2014

My wife is Rh negative and she has not been injected with rhogan. She is pregnant with our second baby. Please tell me what is the treatment now for his rh factor disease? Can she have the rhogan injection now, or is there another alternative treatment for this disease?

By anon358286 — On Dec 10, 2013

Side effects from human plasma reacting to your plasma in a negative way can create a disease called "Jakob's Disease," which is deadly and has no cure.

By anon284393 — On Aug 09, 2012

What year was the rhogam available? My blood type is A negative. I am a mother of a child born in 1968. Was the rhogam available for me at that time?

I was born in Nevada, but, my baby was born in

Arizona. When I had a baby in California in 1970,

she was messed up and had to be delivered at eight months and have blood transfusions.

Then, the third baby in 1971 was stopped because of my rh factor. Could someone please tell me if I could have received the shot in 1968, to avoid all the future problems.

She was born in Scottsdale, Arizona. That is near Phoenix. I don't know if the doctor cared, or didn't care, or if the shot was available?

By anon157451 — On Mar 03, 2011

If the woman with this pregnancy has a negative coombs test result, does she still have to take the Rhogam injection 72 hours after even though she does not want any more babies? ysgf

By anon155884 — On Feb 24, 2011

Can the Rhogam injection still be given at a later date if the woman fails to receive it within 72 hours?

By medicchristy — On Aug 17, 2010

@chrisinbama: That question has been the topic of much controversy in the use of Rhogam and the safety to the mother or the baby. There have been cases where Rhogam has been given to women when they were only 28 weeks pregnant.

Yes, Rhogam is made with human plasma. However, the safety issues are very much acknowledged and donors and very carefully screened and limited to only a small number of people.

It has been the consensus throughout the medical community that the benefits outweigh the risks.

By chrisinbama — On Aug 17, 2010

If Rhogam is made through human plasma, aren’t there safety issues?

By googie98 — On Aug 17, 2010

@alex94: Side effects from the injection of Rhogam, if any, are mild. They would include tenderness, fever, or rash around the injection site, chills, headache or fatigue

By alex94 — On Aug 17, 2010

Are there Rhogam injection side effects?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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