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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Sep;1075:88-95.

Fetal blood group genotyping: present and future.

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International Blood Group of Reference Laboratory, National Blood Service, Southmead Road, Bristol, BS10 5ND, United Kingdom.


Prediction of fetal blood group from DNA is usually performed when the mother has antibodies to RhD, to assess whether the fetus is at risk from hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). Over the last five years RhD testing on fetal DNA in maternal plasma has been introduced. At the International Blood Group Reference Laboratory (IBGRL) we employ real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RQ-PCR) to detect RHD exons 4, 5, and 10, which also reveals RHDpsi. SRY and, in RhD-negative (RhD-) females, eight biallelic polymorphisms are incorporated in an attempt to provide an internal positive control. Since 2000 we have tested 533 pregnancies for RhD. In 327 pregnancies where the RhD of the infant is known, we had one false-positive and one false-negative result. In 2004 we introduced fetal typing from DNA in maternal plasma for K, Rhc, and RhE, which represent single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the KEL and RHCE genes. We have begun trials on an automated method for fetal RhD typing from DNA in maternal plasma. This is designed to test fetal RhD in all pregnant RhD- women, to identify the 40% with an RhD- fetus so that antenatal RhD immunoglobulin (Ig) prophylaxis can be avoided. Similar trials have already been reported by Sanquin Research Laboratories in Amsterdam.

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