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Fetal Transfusion

Fetal Transfusion services offered in Chicago, IL

When an infant develops anemia, serious health complications can follow. Maternal fetal medicine specialist Dr. Suwan Mehra, MD, offers fetal transfusion at his self-named practice to help correct the issue. If you’d like more information, call today to book a visit at his office serving the Chicago and Park Ridge, Illinois, areas. 

Fetal Transfusion Q&A

What is fetal anemia?

Developing fetuses rely on properly balanced blood components, just like children and adults. When red blood cell and hemoglobin counts dip below normal levels, fetal anemia develops. 

Red blood cells and hemoglobin are critical in carrying oxygen throughout the body. When those levels decline, the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout an infant’s body, which creates cardiac strain.

A leading cause of fetal anemia is when the mother’s blood type is incompatible with that of her developing child. Known as isoimmunization, this condition destroys fetal blood cells. Viral infections are also a common cause of fetal anemia. 

How can fetal transfusion help treat anemia?

Blood transfusions are a treatment option for anemia in children and adults. The process works by administering blood directly into a patient’s circulatory system, which brings up the total volume of red blood cells. 

The same effect can treat anemia in developing fetuses, although the transfusion process is more challenging. When successfully done, fetal blood transfusions create dramatic improvements in fetal health and development. Transfusions usually occur between the 19th and 35th week of pregnancy. 

What happens during fetal transfusion?

There are a couple of options when it comes to administering blood to a developing fetus. Dr. Mehra performs a thorough assessment of both you and your baby before determining the best course of action.

Intravascular transfusion works by administering red blood cells through the umbilical cord. Ultrasound technology allows Dr. Mehra to visualize the precise location of the needle as he maneuvers it through your abdomen and into the umbilical cord.

Intraperitoneal transfusion delivers red blood cells directly into the baby’s abdomen. This approach also relies on ultrasound technology to ensure precise needle placement. During both types of transfusion, both mother and baby are sedated to limit movement and preserve comfort.

Medications, such as antibiotics, may be prescribed to reduce the chance of early labor. In most cases, you can return home the same day as your transfusion procedure. Dr. Mehra explains what to look for in terms of infection and fetal distress, which are rare complications after fetal transfusions. 

If you’d like to learn more about fetal transfusions, book a visit with Dr. Suwan Mehra, MD, by phone today or spend a few moments on the online scheduling page.