Prevalence of alloantibodies associated with haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn in pregnant women at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, Southwest Nigeria

Ayodeji O. Olayanju, Nyong I. Chris, Adams E. Emmanuel, Akinloye B. Oyetunde, Kosamat Y. Adebisi, Chisara S. Okolo


Haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN) is caused by maternal alloimmunization against red blood cell antigens, which could result in fetal anaemia, hyperbilirubinaemia, kernicterus, and death. This study was designed to determine the prevalence of alloantibodies against erythrocyte antigens in blood samples of pregnant women during the first trimester which may cause HDFN. A total of 123 consenting pregnant women attending the antenatal clinic of Ekiti state University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti participated in the study which lasted three months. The participants were within the ages of 16 to 45 years old across the major ethnic group in Nigeria. ABO/Rh typing, screening and identification of red blood cell alloantibodies were carried out using standard protocols. 15 (12.2%) subjects had detectable antibodies known to cause haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). The specificity of the antibodies was as follows: anti-K (5, 33%), anti-k (3, 20%), anti- Jsa (2, 13%), anti-C. (3, 20%), and anti-E (2, 13 %). Based on ethnicity, the prevalence of Kell antibodies was highly significant among the Yorubas as well as anti-C and anti-E. The observation was similar in the Igbo and Hausa groups. There is a need to determine these antibodies and monitor their titre in pregnant women to manage or prevent the morbidity and mortality associated with HDFN during routine antenatal care.

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