RhoGAM shot is a brand name for Rh immune globulin which is given to Rh-negative pregnant women to prevent their immune system from producing antibodies that attack their baby’s Rh-positive red blood cells. In case if Rh-negative woman is carrying Rh-negative baby, her immune system detects the baby’s RH-positive red blood cells as a foreign invader that needs to be destroyed. As a result, the mother’s immune system begins to produce antibodies to destroy the baby’s Rh-positive red blood cells which can cause Rh disease in the baby. This can lead to serious complications in the baby and in severest cases even death before of after birth. Rh incompatibility usually does not cause problems during the first pregnancy.
The Rh-negative mother’s immune system begins to produce antibodies that destroy the baby’s Rh-negative red blood cells only when the baby’s blood mixes with the mother’s which most often occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy and during delivery. For that reason Rh-negative pregnant women who could be carrying Rh-negative baby are administered RhoGAM shot around the 28th week of pregnancy and within 72 hours after delivery in case if their baby is Rh-negative. RhoGAM shot which is injected into a muscle works by hiding the baby’s Rh-negative red blood cells from the mother’s immune system. It is crucial, however, that the shot is administered before the Rh-negative pregnant woman is sensitized (exposed to the baby’s Rh-positive red blood cells) because RhoGAM has no effect when the antibodies have been already developed. The shot is also given to Rh-negative pregnant women after threatened or complete miscarriage or pregnancy loss, after induced pregnancy termination, before or immediately after treatment for ectopic or molar pregnancy, after vaginal bleeding, after abdominal trauma, and after certain prenatal tests and procedures such as amniocentesis and version (turning a fetus from a breech position). If administered at the right time, RhoGAM injection is 99% effective in prevention of Rh incompatibility.
RhoGAM is made of human plasma from donated blood. Like all other products that are made of human blood, RhoGAM poses a risk of transmission of infectious agents such as viruses. However, tests of donated blood that were introduced in the recent years and further tests that are made during production of medications derived from human blood have significantly improved safety of these products and reduced the risk of infection transmission.
Side effects of RhoGAM are extremely rare and are usually mild. Most commonly reported side effects include:
– soreness, warmth, swelling and rash on the site of the shot
– mild fever
It is also possible to develop an allergic reaction to the small amount of proteins in the shot including a potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. However, allergic reactions to RhoGAM are very rare, while all patients are monitored for signs of allergy after receiving the shot in order to be provided immediate medical attention in case of a serious allergic reaction.