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Blood. 1993 Apr 15;81(8):2174-9.

Antenatal management of severe feto-maternal alloimmune thrombocytopenia: HLA incompatibility may affect responses to fetal platelet transfusions.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, St Bartholomew's Hospital and Medical College, London, UK.


In feto-maternal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (FMAIT), severe hemorrhage, particularly intracranial haemorrhage (ICH), may occur before delivery. Management strategies to prevent ICH in high-risk pregnancies include maternal administration of intravenous Ig with or without steroids and fetal platelet transfusions. This report describes a patient who lost three fetuses with ICH because of FMAIT due to anti-HPA-1a. ICH occurred earlier in successive pregnancies (at 28, 19, and 16 weeks of gestation) despite maternal treatment with intravenous Ig and steroids from 14 weeks of gestation in the third pregnancy. The fourth pregnancy was managed by administering weekly intraperitoneal injections of Ig to the fetus from 12 to 18 weeks of gestation. At 18 weeks, there was no evidence of ICH, but the fetal platelet count was only 12 x 10(9)/L. Serial fetal platelet transfusions were started, but there were poor responses because of immune destruction of the transfused platelets by maternal HLA antibodies. There were improved responses to transfusions prepared from the mother and from HLA-compatible HPA-1a-negative donors. At 35 weeks of gestation, a normal infant was delivered by Caesarean section after 20 platelet transfusions. There was prolonged thrombocytopenia in the baby for 15 weeks after birth, probably due to transfer of HPA-1a antibodies in the transfusions of unwashed maternal platelets. The optimal management of pregnancies likely to be severely affected by FMAIT is still evolving. Intensive management was successful in this case, but a successful outcome cannot be guaranteed in severely affected cases. This is the first time that HLA incompatibility has been found to complicate fetal transfusion therapy.

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