What is Fetal Anemia and Thrombocytopenia?

In normal pregnancies, the body produces an increased blood volume to compensate for the baby’s development. However, when complications arise and things don’t feel right, your symptoms could signify a complex pregnancy, as some women experience fetal anemia and fetal thrombocytopenia throughout their trimesters. Here, we provide the most up-to-date knowledge on these conditions to help you make informed decisions about your health and future newborns.  

What Are Fetal Anemia and Fetal Thrombocytopenia?

Pregnancy anemia occurs when the red blood cells and plasma increase when this occurs, causing mild anemia in most women. While this relative anemia doesn’t affect the pregnancy, it can develop into a more severe form of anemia called fetal anemia. It’s a rare condition caused by the destruction of the red blood cells due to the incompatibility of the baby’s blood type with the mother’s. When this occurs, the mother’s immune system attacks the baby’s red blood cells. 

Fetal anemia can also increase the risk of fetal thrombocytopenia. This condition occurs when the fetus has a low platelet count, causing an increased risk of spontaneous bleeding in the fetal brain, which can lead to strokes and miscarriages. As a severe condition, fetal anemia and fetal thrombocytopenia can be treated if recognized early.

Treatment Choices and Outcomes of Fetal Anemia and Thrombocytopenia 

Complicated fetal conditions such as these require close monitoring and treatments ahead of time to prevent these conditions from worsening. As fetal medicine specialists, we aim to ensure that the fetus is monitored and safe before and during delivery. However, managing these problems carries risks, and it’s important to find specialists who work with these conditions to ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible.

In most cases, your fetal medicine specialists must determine how severe your conditions are to be treated or managed. Various procedures can be performed for fetal anemia and fetal thrombocytopenia to monitor the fetus’s health and ensure that the risk of miscarriage is small. These procedures include: 

  • Laboratory Evaluations: Many fetal medicine specialists will use regular screenings and diagnostic tests to check for signs of severity with these conditions, including blood count, liver function tests, direct antiglobulin tests, and thyroid function tests to monitor the pregnancy and keep track of results regularly. 
  • Vaginal Delivery Management: Vaginal delivery management refers to taking the evaluations performed and assessing the state of the pregnancy. Using this information, your fetal specialists can help ensure you can deliver your baby safely. 
  • Regular Prenatal Visits: Scheduling prenatal visits is vital throughout this time, as these visits help your specialist assess the current circumstances of your pregnancy and ensure that your baby can be delivered. Options can be discussed to help improve outcomes and help manage anemia and thrombocytopenia and prevent those conditions from worsening over time. 
  • Detailed Pregnancy Plans: Throughout your visits with your fetal specialists, planning out emergency scenarios and choosing your hospital specialists for your care are vital for protecting your health. Considering these measures, you can work more effectively with your medical care team and ensure the best possible outcome. 

Find Support Through Your Local Fetal Medicine Specialist

Finding support groups and looking into other resources can help give your baby a chance it needs to be delivered safely, and by working with a fetal medicine specialist, they can advise you on the best course of action needed for a healthier pregnancy.