The prevalence of anti-K in Canadian prenatal patients
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BACKGROUND: Anti-KEL1(K) is a major cause of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn. We utilized data from prenatal testing of patients in Western Canada to determine the frequency of anti-K. In Manitoba, we evaluated the frequency of transfusion as the likely cause for alloimmunization. We reviewed international practices to prevent alloimmunization. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Prenatal patients undergo antibody screening using an automated testing platform and uniform testing algorithm. Data on the frequency of antibodies, transfusion history, and donor K typing were extracted from the relevant databases at Canadian Blood Services. National standards were reviewed with the help of local experts. RESULTS: Anti-K was found in 397 of 390,193 patients from 2011 to 2013 (1.02 per 1000) and was the second most frequent antibody after anti-E. In Manitoba, 26 of 75 (35%) anti-K patients had received transfusions in the province since 2001; 14 of the 26 (54%) had received at least one K+ RBC unit and three had received all K- units, while in nine, donor K typing was incomplete. Only eight of the 26 had previous pregnancies, three with K+ partners. International practice varies; however, prophylactic use of matched or K- units is standard in many European countries. CONCLUSIONS: Anti-K was found in 0.1% of prenatal patients. Although our data on the history of transfusion are incomplete, they demonstrate that transfusion with a K+ unit is a major cause of alloimmunization. Given advances in phenotyping and genotyping technologies, prophylactic matching should be considered in Canada.
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