Background - Fetal RHD genotyping of cell-free fetal DNA (cff-DNA) from RhD-negative pregnant women can be used to guide anti-D prophylaxis: the knowledge of fetal RhD type can direct and restrict the use of prenatal anti-D immunoglobulin exclusively to RhD-negative women carrying a RhD-positive fetus. Since November 2019 in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy) a prenatal screening service has been offered to RhD-negative women at 22-24 weeks of gestation.
Materials and methods - The cff-DNA is extracted from a simple peripheral maternal blood sample to analyze the fetal RHD gene: the results are interpreted as RHD-positive fetus, RHD-negative fetus, or Inconclusive. The service is shared with all regional hospitals and tests are provided free of charge by the National Health System.
Results - Overall, 142 RhD-negative pregnant women were recruited in nearly 2 years. Fetal RHD genotyping was negative in 53 pregnancies and positive in 89 pregnancies. Thus, unnecessary treatment of pregnant women and exposure to a scarce plasma-derived medicinal product was avoided, by the use of a single blood sample, in 37.8% of cases, representing 100% of the RhD-negative women carrying a RhD-negative fetus in our cohort.
Discussion - The first Italian region-wide screening service for fetal RHD genotyping has been implemented for 2 years, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to obtain the predicted fetal RhD phenotype before the 28th week of gestation, during which prenatal prophylaxis is usually administered. Giving prenatal anti-D immunoglobulin exclusively to RhD-negative women carrying a RhD-positive fetus reduces the overall use of anti-D immunoglobulin, which is becoming an ever more limited resource. The high sensitivity of the procedure provides evidence that the implementation of a diagnostic test in a reference laboratory guarantees the quality of the results, the concordance of reports and the sustainability of costs, representing an excellent guide to targeted use of prophylaxis.
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