Eliminating Rh Disease
Until the introduction of the Rh immune globulin vaccine, Rh disease could not be prevented. About 45 babies per 10,000 births developed the disease each year before widespread use of the vaccine in the early 1970s. The number of newborns with Rh disease has dropped dramatically since the introduction of the vaccine, to about 10 per 10,000 in the early 1990s. The prevention of Rh disease is one of the triumphs of modern medicine.
Nevertheless, the number of newborns born in the United States each year with Rh disease is still relatively high. The disease is not completely eradicated. Further steps must be taken, since this is a preventable disease. The majority of cases of Rh disease are the result of women not receiving the vaccine at the appropriate time. Poor women without health insurance, who are likely to lack adequate prenatal care, are especially vulnerable to this oversight. Older women may have become sensitized before the vaccine was available. Foreign-born women may not have had access to the vaccine. With further diligence, health care providers hope to eradicate Rh disease.
See also Antibody and antigen.
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Rich, Laurie A. When Pregnancy Isn't Perfect. New York: Dutton, 1991.
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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Revaluation of values: to Sarin Gas - History And Global Production Of SarinRh Factor - Importance Of The Rh Factor, Rh Factor In Pregnancy, Treatment For Rh Disease, Eliminating Rh Disease