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Rh Factor

Importance Of The Rh Factor

Rh factor is an antigen found on the red blood cells of most people. Rh factor, like the blood types A, B, and O, is inherited from one's parents. A simple blood test can determine blood type, including the presence of the Rh factor. About 85% of white Americans and 95% of African Americans are Rh positive. A person's own health is not affected by the presence or absence of Rh factor.

Rh factor is important only during a pregnancy in which an Rh negative woman is carrying a fetus who might be Rh positive. This can occur when an Rh negative woman conceives a baby with an Rh positive man. The gene for Rh positive blood is dominant over the gene for Rh negative blood, so their baby will be Rh positive. If the Rh positive father also carries the gene for Rh negative blood, his babies have a 50% chance of inheriting Rh negative blood and a 50% chance of inheriting Rh positive blood. If both parents are Rh negative, their babies will always be Rh negative. In order to protect their future babies from Rh disease, all women of childbearing age should know their Rh status before becoming pregnant.

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