MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Can the RH Factor cause developmental or learning disabilities of any kind?

Date: Tue Feb 12 21:50:24 2002
Posted By: Robin Cooper, Faculty, neurobiology, Univ. of Kentucky
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 1007349830.Ns

It appears that the Rh factor can have adverse effect on brain function. 
This was a learning experience for me as well. 

I was not able to find the detailed cellular response of the mechanisms to 
the cause why the neurons malfunction but there is correlative evidence 
with many dysfunctions of brain function as a result of Rh 
incompatibility. So if brain function is altered then that could very well 
lead to mental retardation.

Below I have compiled information from various www sites and sources. It 
is a bit long but at least it will provide a good overview of the Rh 
problem and cause and various developmental problems as a result of the 

(Where the ** are located is the next passage of my annotation to the 
information provided. At the very bottom is a  listing of primary medical 
literature on Rh factor  and mental disorders).
First I think it would be best to describe what happens when a mother has 
a problem with Rh during pregnancy.

The following information was obtained from:

 ˇ°How is hemolytic disease prevented? Hemolytic disease can for the most 
part be prevented if the Rh- mother has not already made antibodies 
against the Rh factor from an earlier pregnancy or blood transfusion. 
RhoGam is a blood product that can prevent sensitization of an Rh- mother. 
It suppresses her ability to respond to Rh+ red cells. RhoGam is not 
helpful if the mother is already sensitized. Interesting to note, midwives 
and home-birth doctors, who delay clamping the cord until the blood has 
stopped pulsating, report an almost zero incidence of Rh problems. 
A blood test, called an antibody screen, can show if an Rh- woman has 
developed antibodies to Rh+ blood. 
Once a woman develops antibodies, RhoGam treatment does not help. An Rh 
sensitized mother can be checked during her pregnancy to see if the baby 
is developing hemolytic disease. Delivery may be followed by a type of 
transfusion for the baby that will replace the diseased blood cells with 
healthy blood. 

Prior to RhoGam, somewhere between 10 to 16 percent of Rh- women became 
sensitized to their baby's blood. Traditionally, RhoGam is given within 72 
hours of birth. This is a recommendation which arose from the fact that 
the researchers developing the protocols for giving RhoGam postpartum used 
the 72 hour period because of the logistics of drawing blood from 
volunteers who were newly delivered and usually discharged by 72 hours. 
Since they had such a high success rate with this particular protocol, 
this 72-hour limit became sacred. However, immunologists know that immune 
response is not initiated until fetal cells are identified by the mother's 
spleen. This process can take weeks. Therefore, you can go past the 72 
hours before administrating the RhoGam vaccine. 

RhoGam is developed by injecting human volunteer donors (Rh-) with the 
positive Rh factor, then drawing their blood once antibodies have been 
formed. This blood is concentrated into a serum for injection. RhoGam is a 
human-blood product and therefore, despite all government reassurances, 
may contain the AIDS virus. RhoGam reduces, but does not eliminate the 
possibility of Rh sensitization. 

RhoGam joins a long list of medical interventions that once were 
considered to be beyond question but now are suspect. RhoGam, like 
immunizations and silver nitrate in the eyes of newborns, has been a form 
of Holy Water in the Religion of Modern Medicine. 
Since 2 percent of Rh- women still become sensitized even with RhoGam, 
researchers, seeking to better the percentage, began to give RhoGam at 28 
weeks of pregnancy. This is a relatively new procedure. 
With prenatal RhoGam, the future siblings are the ones who may benefit 
from the treatment, rather than the baby who is subjected to the risk. 
Tests on babies whose mothers were given RhoGam prenatally imply that the 
immunoglobulin reaches the baby in measurable amounts. No one knows what 
the effect might be on an Rh- female baby who later gives birth to Rh+ 

Because the baby's blood type is not ordinarily known during pregnancy, 
the standard of care among United States obstetricians has come to be that 
all babies of Rh- mothers, regardless of their blood type, are exposed to 
RhoGam. This means that approximately 35 percent of babies are needlessly 
exposed to RhoGam. Another group of babies needlessly exposed are those 
who will be their mother's last child. It is only future pregnancies that 
are affected by the mixing of blood between Rh- mothers and Rh+ babies. 
A part that may cause problems, in addition to the AIDS question, is the 
preservative thimerosol, which is a mercury derivative. Mercury crosses 
the placental barrier and, within minutes of maternal exposure, the unborn 
baby receives 30 times the concentration level of the mother. 
The use of RhoGam during pregnancy may be dangerous to the baby. Some 
mothers after receiving prenatal RhoGam have had their babies die within a 
week of having the vaccine.ˇ±

** So that information is scary enough. 
What else I was able to dig up is that some people feel that cerebral 
palsy might be caused by Rh  blood-type incompatibility. If you want to 
more about  cerebral palsy.  I found this information at:

and more information at:

 Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions 
affecting body movement and muscle coordination.  It is caused by damage 
to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal 
development; before, during or shortly following birth; or during 
infancy.  "Cerebral" refers to the brain and "palsy" to muscle 
weakness/poor control.  Cerebral palsy itself is not progressive (i.e., it 
does not get worse); however,, secondary conditions can develop which may 
get better over time, get worse, or remain the same.  Cerebral palsy is 
not communicable.  It is not a disease and should never be referred to as 
such.  Although cerebral palsy is not "curable" in the accepted sense, 
training and therapy can help improve function.

*** It appears that agglutinins that are produced by the mother in the 
case of a Rh incompatibility and that these can have an adverse reaction 
with a developing embryo as pointed out at the following www site:

ˇ°serious or fatal reaction. The same type of immune reaction occurs in 
the blood of an Rh-negative mother who is carrying an Rh-positive fetus. 
(The probability of this situation occurring is high if the father is Rh 
positive.) Some of the infant's blood may enter the maternal circulation, 
causing the formation of agglutinins against the fetal red blood cells. 
The first baby is usually not harmed. But, if the mother's agglutinins 
pass into the circulation of subsequent fetuses, they may destroy the 
fetal red blood cells, causing the severe hemolytic disease of newborns 
known as erythroblastosis fetalis.ˇ±

** In addition it has been noted that deafness can be caused by Rh factors-

Causes of Deafness - This site covers five causes of deafness. It includes 
rubella, heredity, premature birth, complications of Rh factor, and 
meningitis. Underneath each of the causes, there is a list of facts 
related to the cause. A great resource for determining the cause of 
Other Reasons: Mother and child incompatibility on Rh factor, neonatal 
disorder and deficiency of Glucose

What are the causes? 
A large number of factors injuring the developing brain may produce 
cerebral palsy. One important cause is an insufficient amount of oxygen 
reaching the fetal or newborn brain. Premature separation of the placenta 
from the wall of the uterus, awkward birth position of the baby, labor 
that is too long or too abrupt, or interference with circulation in the 
umbilical cord can interrupt oxygen supply. Premature birth, low birth 
weight, Rh or A-B-O blood-type incompatibility between mother and infant, 
infection of the mother with German measles or other virus diseases in 
early pregnancy, and micro-organisms that attack the infant's central 
nervous system also are risk factors for cerebral palsy.ˇ±

Listing of Primary Literature on Rh factor  and mental disorders

1.  Dev Med Child Neurol 1974 Oct;16(5):592-611 A follow-up study of 
survivors of Rh-haemolytic disease. Walker W, Ellis MI, Ellis E, Curry A, 
Savage RD, Sawyer R.

2. Arch Fr Pediatr 1967 Jun-Jul;24(6):687-91. Intellectual predictions of 
71 children between the ages of 2 and 13 years afflicted at birth with non-
complicated Rh hemolytic disease. [Article in French] Boeswillwald M, 
Lepage F, Larnaud.

3. Dis Nerv Syst 1976 Oct;37(10):581-3. ABO-RH blood groups and 
psychiatric diagnosis: a critical review. Flemenbaum A, Larson JW.
The authors studied 312 consecutive admissions to a psychiatric service 
for a relationship of the ABO - Rh blood groups with psychiatric 
diagnosis. Even though the results were significant, showing an increase 
of A blood group with M.D.D. and O group with Sch, the authors observe 
that the general patient population was skewed and significantly different 
from the general population of the area. This same observation was made 
for most of the previous studies that have reported significant 
correlations between various blood groups and different psychiatric 
diagnosis. Because of this, the conclusion of the present study is that at 
the present time positive associational findings of blood groups with 
psychiatric diagnosis are probably related to a skewed and stratified 
patient population sample.

4. Folia Med Cracov 1967;9(1):145-65. Immunologic, pneumoencephalographic 
and electroencephalographic studies in children with mental disorders 
after neonatal hemolytic disease. [Article in Polish] Kwiatkowska E.

5. Wien Klin Wochenschr 1970 Jul 3;82(27):506-7. Brain damage in the 
infant due to Rh-incompatibility. [Article in German] Asperger H.

6. Wien Med Wochenschr 1970 Apr 11;120(15):251-3. Brain damage from blood 
group incompatibility.  [Article in German] Rett A.

7. Except Child 1967 Sep;34(1):5-12. Rh factor and deafness: the problem, 
its psychological, physical, and educational manifestations.
Vernon M.

Hope this helps.
All the best,
Robin Cooper

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