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Group tasks Nigerians on rhesus disease

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Experts have advised Nigerians to take steps that would mitigate the spread of hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN) or rhesus disease in country.

Rhesus disease is a condition where antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood attack her baby’s blood cells, resulting into the baby’s death.

The condition could happen with three criteria: When the mother has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative), the baby has rhesus-positive blood (RhD positive) and the mother has previously been sensitised to RhD positive blood.

Paediatric surgeon with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and Chairman of Board of Trustees of Rhesus Solution Initiative, Prof. Akin Bankole, noted that women needed to take the bold step of knowing their rhesus blood group so as to take preventive the onset of the deadly condition among infants,

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Bankole, who spoke recently in Lagos during activities to mark one-year anniversary of Rhesus Solution Initiative, stated that although there were measures to ensure that a Rhesus negative woman was able to deliver life babies, most Nigerian women were ignorant of their rhesus status.

Symptoms of rhesus disease in newborn babies include jaundice and anaemia, or lack of red blood cells. If rhesus disease is left untreated, the effects of the jaundice in the newborn baby can lead to learning difficulties, deafness, and blindness. Severe cases can lead to stillbirth -when a baby dies in the womb before it is born. a

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President of the initiative, “Olafunmilayo Banire, noted that the nation was facing the challenge of inadequate blood supply for rhesus negativemothers.

She called for voluntary blood donation among Nigerians as a way out of the challenge.

Banire also identified lack of funding «for anti-D immunoglobulin injection, which prevents pregnant women from developing antibodies that could attack baby’s blood, as a major challenge in the fight against HDN in Nigeria.

She called on Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (AMLS) to direct its attention towards fight against the condition.

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