As applied to pregnancy, RhIg's purpose is to prevent immunization to the D antigen in the perinatal period and thus prevent HDFN due to anti-D. If the mother has already produced anti-D, RhIg is of no use in moderating the immune response.
Accordingly, RhIg is routinely administered to Rh negative women not previously sensitized to the D antigen under the following circumstances:
1, Antenatal. Antepartum prophylaxis of 300 µg (1500 IU) at about 28 weeks gestation in the USA and Canada, which could be weeks later, depending on how appointments are scheduled.
To illustrate variation in antenatal international practice, in the UK, smaller doses of RhIg (e.g., 500 IU) may be given at 28 weeks and 34 weeks, although many UK facilities issue a 1500 IU dose at 28–30 weeks.
With antenatal administration, the Rh of the fetus is usually unknown. Some transfusion services recommend a further antenatal dose if the infant is undelivered after 40 weeks.
2. Postnatal. Prophylaxis of 300 µg (1500 IU) at delivery of an Rh positive or weak D infant within 72 hours of delivery whenever possible. If RhIg administration is delayed beyond 72 hours, laboratory policies differ as to when it would no longer be administered. The longer the delay, the more likely RhIg may fail to suppress production of anti-D, but it is still worth trying.
Note: Because RhIg contains IgG anti-D, when given antenatally, it can cross the placenta and sensitize fetal D-positive red cells. Occasionally the fetus may be born with a weakly positive DAT, but significant hemolysis does not occur. For this reason some guidelines recommend that labs do NOT routinely perform DATs on infants whose mothers have received antenatal RhIg.