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OBJECTIVE: To compare the rates of Rh(D) sensitisations with a policy of restricted routine antenatal anti-D prophylaxis (first pregnancy only) with the rates predicted with universal routine antenatal anti-D prophylaxis (all pregnancies). STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective longitudinal observational study involving 15,500 confinements in Rhesus D negative (Rh(D)-ve) women between 1990 and 2003 in a single health district was conducted. All Rh(D) sensitised pregnancies were identified and evidence for routine antenatal anti-D prophylaxis administration during the first pregnancy was investigated. The rate of Rh(D) sensitisations following a policy of restricted prophylaxis was compared with that predicted with mathematical modelling following universal prophylaxis. RESULTS: There were 50 newly sensitised and 37 previously sensitised pregnancies among 15,596 Rh(D)-ve women. For the calculated 13,575 Rh(D)-ve women whose first confinement was in Oxford and who were eligible for restricted prophylaxis, there were 30 new and 26 previously sensitised pregnancies. Of these 30 new sensitisations, 10 were nulliparae, 12 parity 1, and eight parity 2 or greater (third or later continuing pregnancy); only one of these latter eight women had received routine prophylaxis, four had delivered their first baby before the programme was introduced, and in three documentary evidence could not be confirmed that prophylaxis had been given. There was no difference between a policy of restricted and universal routine antenatal anti-D prophylaxis in the sensitisation rates for women during their third or subsequent pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown that restricted routine antenatal prophylaxis provides continuing protection for subsequent pregnancies although the mechanism for this is unclear. These results challenge the wisdom and expense of a policy of universal prophylaxis and prompt a need for further similar analyses to test the appropriateness of the NICE guideline.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol

Publication Date





38 - 42


Drug Administration Schedule, Female, Humans, Immunologic Factors, Longitudinal Studies, Practice Guidelines as Topic, Pregnancy, Retrospective Studies, Rh-Hr Blood-Group System, Rho(D) Immune Globulin