Background - The Rh blood group system is highly complex, polymorphic, and immunogenic. The presence of RHD gene variants in RhD negative pregnant women is a challenge in fetal RHD genotyping as it may influence the antenatal management of anti-D prophylaxis. The aim of this study was to determine the efficiency of a non-invasive single-exon approach in the obstetric population of Western Sweden in a 31-month follow up. The frequency and type of maternal RHD variants were explored and the relation to the ethnicity was elucidated. Discrepant results between fetal RHD genotyping and serological blood group typing of newborns were investigated and clarified.

Materials and methods - RHD exon 4 was analysed with quantitative real-time PCR technique in a total of 6,948 blood samples from RhD negative women in early pregnancy. All cases with suspected maternal RHD gene and discrepant results observed in newborn samples, were further investigated using both serological and molecular technologies.

Results - A total of 43 samples (0.6%) had inconclusive fetal genotyping result due the presence of a maternal RHD gene. These findings were in most cases (>66%) observed in pregnant women of non-European ancestry. Additionally, two novel RHD alleles were found. Seven discrepant results between fetal RHD genotype and serological RhD type of the newborns, were shown to be related to D antigen variants in newborns. Assay sensitivity was 99.95%, specificity 100%, and accuracy 99.97%.

Discussion - The single-exon approach for fetal RHD screening early in pregnancy is an appropriate choice in the population of Western Sweden, with a very low frequency of inconclusive results caused by the presence of maternal RHD gene variants. Due to the high sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of the test, serological typing of neonates born to RhD negative women has no longer been performed at our laboratory since June 2023.



Cecilia Pardi - Department of Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0646-7010

Åsa Hellberg - Department of Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, Office of Medical Services, Region Skåne, Sweden https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7000-1899

Pauline Isakson - Department of Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6363-8288

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