Anti D: routine intervention debate

A medicine that offers a life line for a small minority has drifted into being used on a much wider population “just in case”.

If a medicine is good for a minority, then surely it’s even better to use it preventively on others? In this case, it appears that the logic doesn’t hold.

Our blood types are commonly understood – “O” “AB” etc. – and in addition we all have an Rh factor, which is the “positive” or “negative” aspect of our blood type. In the 1960s Anti-D was developed to help combat problems for Rh negative women with Rh positive babies, because an immune reaction to the baby’s blood can cause serious health problems in babies.

The people that this drug potentially benefits are:

  • Rh negative women with an Rh positive father of their child
  • Of these women, those who have experienced a trauma such as a car crash or interventions such as a C section during the birth

Originally, the drug was used in the 72 hours following a trauma or following birth interventions to stop an immune reaction in a future pregnancy. However, because studies found that women weren’t being offered the drug after trauma, in 1997 a consensus conference led to a recommendation to give the drug routinely rather than wait for a trauma to occur.

As with other birth culture issues we’ve covered, this is an area with large gaps in the research and a big lobbying pharmaceutical sector to deal with. National expert Sara Wickham has written about it in detail, well worth reading if you want to know more.

If you’re trying to make an informed choice on this intervention, one of the problems is that most of the literature available is produced or funded by the drug companies, rather than being independent. There is a US blog that offers some thoughts to help you (although from an activist not a medically qualified person).

The NHS page on this topic sadly doesn’t cover all the concerns raised by Sara Wickham. For example, if you are Rh negative but your baby’s father is too, then there’s no benefit from the drug, and it says that “it is likely small amounts of blood from your baby will pass into your blood during this time” which Sara points out is a contested point of view.

Rhesus disease can be serious for babies, and Anti-D may well be the best thing for those situations, but routine use of it on Rh negative women means passing the possible side effects onto mother and child without the benefits of preventing Rhesus disease to justify them. Sara points to some evidence suggesting it may even cause the disease in some babies by introducing the antibodies where they didn’t previously exist.

When a Muslim Mother loses a Child

As always I am awed when I meet women and mothers who have suffered themselves and then find it in the hearts and lives to want to change things to ease the suffering of others.  Here is just such a woman, who has lost two children herself but has yet found the strength and compassion to ease the suffering of others.  I commend her story and her work to my friends.  If you are in touch with women who may need the support of Rezvanna’s charity, then feel free to contact her.

Every blessing.

Rezvana says:

Children are regarded as one of the most precious gifts for every parent to hold, love and cherish. The loss of a child is no doubt the most difficult experience for any parent to face. The pain of child loss, however, is one that may never heal as I have learnt over the years.

I lost my son Hashim 8 years ago and Haider Ali just over a year ago. However parents like myself are looking for ways in which to learn to live again and face the reality of life. The feeling of strength, courage and patience is tested daily. During the time of heartache and soul searching, spiritual guidance can be the answer to many lingering questions as I have experienced.

At the time of my bereavement I was offered support by the health professionals and on a number of occasions. However I felt they did not cater for my faith beliefs therefore I declined. Sadly I did not know of any charity  out there that could cater for my beliefs. After 8 months of struggling to deal with my loss I was introduced to Children of Jannah, the only Islamic bereavment support in the UK helping to deal with child loss. Children of Jannah is a charity which aims to support parents to deal with their loss in the light of Islamic guidance. This closes a  gap in  service provision that will benefit many: as we create an environment for families to discuss their feelings and emotions.

Children of Jannah has a personal Facebook page for mothers and fathers separately where they can share their stories and experiences. It also delivers a telephone support line so that parents can speak to a trained volunteer confidentially.

The Imam of Bradford was pleased with the substantial support provided for parents by Children of Jannah, he said:

 “The Children of Jannah is a welcomed initiative that combines the offer of comfort and compassion through spiritual guidance at the time of bereavement. I would like to commend Children of Jannah charity and pray that Almighty Allah reward them for their efforts and good intentions.” Shaykh Muhammad Afzal Saeedi, President Minhaj-ul-Quran International UK

Another Imam said: “I want to congratulate Children of Jannah for producing this much needed information in a clear and accessible form. May Allah (God, the Most High) reward them for their endeavours.”    Imam Muhammad Asim MBE, Makkah Masjid, Leeds

Children of Jannah is the grief recovery charity that could help many other isolated parents deal with their grief. With their motivation and encouragement I have come to terms with my loss, and now I want to raise awareness so many other parents can receive this support. I am now the West Yorkshire Coordinator for the Children of Jannah charity and would like to talk with anyone who knows Muslim parents who may benefit, as I did, from this charity’s support.

Children of Jannah logo

Website:  Email:       Mobile: 07870660035                 Charity no: 1145936