A cross‐sectional study of haemolytic disease of the newborn in Uganda Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractBackground and ObjectivesHaemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN) is an immune haemolytic anaemia from maternal alloantibodies. Rh immunoglobulin (RhIg) prophylaxis can prevent alloimmunization to the D antigen. However, RhIg is not universally available in Uganda. ABO incompatibility also causes HDN. We determined the prevalence of HDN among newborn infants with jaundice in Uganda.Materials and MethodsWe conducted a prospective cross‐sectional study at Kawempe National Referral Hospital, Kampala, Uganda. Infants aged 0–14 days with neonatal jaundice (or total bilirubin >50 μmol/L) were enrolled. Clinical evaluation and laboratory testing, including ABO, RhD typing and maternal antibody screen, were performed.ResultsA total of 466 babies were enrolled. The mean (SD) age was 3.4 (1.5) days. Of newborn babies with jaundice, 17.2% (80/466) had HDN. Babies with HDN had lower haemoglobin (SD); 15.7 (2.7) compared with those without HDN; 16.4 (2.4) g/dL, p = 0.016; and a higher bilirubin (interquartile range); 241 (200–318) compared with those without HDN; 219 (191–263) μmol/L, p < 0.001. One baby had anti‐D HDN, while 46/466 had HDN from an ABO incompatibility (anti‐A 43.5% and anti‐B 56.5%); 82% of babies with HDN also had suspected neonatal sepsis or birth asphyxia. About 79.2% (57/72) of mothers did not have ABO/Rh blood group performed antenatally. All infants with HDN survived except one.ConclusionAmong newborn infants with jaundice, HDN is not rare. The majority is due to ABO HDN affecting group A and group B babies equally. Ensuring routine ABO/Rh grouping for all pregnant women is an area for improvement.


  • Dhabangi, Aggrey
  • Nankunda, Jolly
  • Okaba, Violet
  • Nakubulwa, Sarah
  • Hume, Heather A
  • Dzik, Walter H
  • Heddle, Nancy

publication date

  • December 2022