Background: Rh D negative blood in mothers carrying Rh D positive fetus is usually associated with the hemolytic disease of the new born. The rate of alloimmunization in vivo among Rh D negative mothers in Maiduguri, Nigeria has not been determined.
Materials and methods: We determined the ABO blood group of the Rh D negative mothers by hemagglutination method. Structured questionnaires were administered to Rh negative mothers for demographics, parity and transfusion status. Direct Anti Globulin (DAT) test was performed on 50 cord blood samples using standard procedures.
Results: Twelve (24.0%) of the cord blood samples were DAT positive (χ2=13.52; p<0.001). The positive DAT was found to be significantly associated with maternal age (χ2=7.58; p<0.02) and parity (χ2=10.16; p<0.01). ABO blood group was not found to be significantly associated with positive DAT (χ2=1.046; p>0.05). Women who were 31 years and above had a 50% positive DAT while grandmultigravida (4 children and above) were more sensitized than the others. A significant proportion of the mothers (24.0%) had previous abortion while 26.0% of the women had previously received blood transfusion.
Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of positive cord blood DAT in this part of the world. There is need to establish intervention programmes in terms of neonatal screening and immunoprophylaxis for the benefit and protection of the neonates, the family and the health care system in Nigeria.