The Rhesus Factor

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If your red blood cells contain a substance known as rhesus factor, you are rhesus, or Rh, positive.  If a woman who is Rh negative conceives a baby by a man who is Rh positive and the baby, in turn, is Rh positive, the woman may become sensitized to the Rh positive blood at the time of delivery.  If a subsequent baby is also Rh positive, the mother’s body recognizes the baby’s “foreign” blood and produces antibodies that attack the baby.

Rhesus Factor


 First pregnancy

Rh positive blood from the baby enters the mother’s bloodstream.

Rhesus Factor

 After first baby

Antibodies develop in the mother to combat Rh positive blood and afterward remain.

 Subsequent pregnancies

Rhesus Factor

Antibodies enter subsequent Rh + baby’s blood, causing rhesus hemolytic disease.

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