The perinatal outcome of the anaemic fetus has dramatically improved over the last 20 years, as a result of early recognition of the problem and treatment by intrauterine transfusion. Traditionally assessment of the anaemic fetus relied on obstetric history and maternal antibody titre, which proved to be inadequate tests to accurately predict fetal condition. More recently, invasive testing with techniques such as amniocentesis and cordocentesis have allowed a more accurate evaluation of the degree of anaemia, while at the same time enabling transfusion to take place. Such techniques are not without danger, with perinatal loss and fetomaternal haemorrhage being significant risks. The clinical community has therefore sought to find accurate, non-invasive methods for assessing the degree of fetal anaemia, thereby reducing the number of unnecessary invasive procedures, while at the same time providing more precise data on the quantity and timing of the transfusion. Recent publications focusing on the diagnosis and management (including plasmapheresis, immunoglobulins and intrauterine transfusion) of fetal anaemia will be discussed.
Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Homerton Hospital, London, UK
Correspondence to Mr Kevin Harrington, Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Homerton Hospital, Homerton Row, London E9 6SR, UK. Tel: +44 20 8510 7544; fax: +44 20 8510 7850; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abbreviations MCA: middle cerebral artery RBC: red blood cell