Blood type is important in pregnancy and when a blood transfusion is needed. Do you know yours?
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PREPARATION: No fasting or other special preparation is needed for this test.
What does this test do?
A person’s blood type is caused by a combination of specific proteins found on the surface of their red blood cells. Blood types are broadly classified using two main designations: first, the A, B, or O group, which consists of four possibilities: A, B, AB, and O. The Rh system is also used to subdivide the blood type into positive (Rh+) or negative (Rh-) categories. This test determines the blood type based upon both classifications – for example one may have type A+ blood, type O- blood, type AB + blood, etc.
Why is this important?
Knowing one’s blood type is important in pregnancy, where a difference between the mother and the baby’s blood type can cause potential harm to the unborn child, in certain situations. Knowing the blood type is also vital in life-threatening accidents and major trauma, where heavy bleeding might require a blood transfusion.
Type AB is the least common, and individuals with this blood type are known as universal recipients – they can receive any of the A/B/O blood types in a blood transfusion. On the other hand, persons with type O blood are known as universal donors, because they can donate to individuals with any of the other A/B/O types.
The Rh system further subdivides the blood type into positive (Rh+) or negative (Rh-) categories. Only about 15% of people are Rh negative, but being so is an important factor for pregnant women. If an Rh negative mother carries a child that is Rh positive, then she may produce antibodies to the baby’s blood cells, and destroy them. This disease, called erythroblastosis fetalis, can be fatal to the unborn baby. Fortunately it can be prevented with medication given early in the pregnancy.
It’s important to also note that, despite what some nutritional “authorities” claim, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the idea that altering your diet to better match your blood type has any beneficial effects.