A baby boy from Malad survived a rare condition in which he lost nearly 80% of his blood to his mother while he was in the womb.Doctors said that the baby was ‘completely white’ when they delivered him through caesarean section last month.
The mother was three weeks away from her due date and was admitted for a preterm delivery. A ‘non-stress test’ performed at 36 weeks of her pregnancy revealed that the baby’s breathing patterns were abnormal.
“We were surprised to see that the baby was pale and severely anaemic. We immediately sent his and the mother’s blood for testing,” said Dr Amit Jagtap, neonatologist, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical at Khar.
Such babies are often referred to as ‘ghost babies’, owing to their pale colour, he added.
The baby’s blood test showed that his haemoglobin level was 4 gm/ dl, much lower than the normal range of 14 to 18.
Doctors said it was normal for 0.5 to 1% of the foetus blood to drain into the mother’s system through the umbilical cord. But in this case, it was roughly 80%.
“We had to use indirect methods to quantify the amount of blood from the baby that was lost to the mother as the actual test — ‘Kleihauer–Betke’ test — is not available in the city,” said Dr Ravindra Chittal, consultant paediatrician at the hospital.
Doctors identified this as a rare case of ‘feto-maternal hemorrhage’. They said that in such cases the chances of a baby’s survival are very slim as most of them die in the uterus before delivery.
In this case, the baby survived the delivery and needed three rounds of blood transfusion and respiratory support in the neonatal intensive care unit.
“The baby was in a shock. The first round of blood transfusion was performed hours after the delivery. We put him in the NICU for around five days and his condition gradually improved,” said Dr Chittal.
The baby’s father, who runs a private business company, said the baby was doing well. “It was disturbing when doctors told us about this. We have to take him for follow-ups,” he said.
Loss of blood
Feto-maternal hemorrhage refers to the entry of fetal blood into the maternal circulation before or during delivery.
Small amounts, nearly 0.1 ml of fetal blood, is commonly found in maternal circulation. However, loss of large volumes of blood to the mother could result in death of the babies in the womb.
Such babies are referred to as ‘ghost babies’ as they are pale due to the loss of blood.