JAMES STEVENSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES STEVENSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Newborn baby suffering from hydrops foetalis as a result of severe haemolytic disease. Haemolytic disease of the newborn is a condition resulting from the destruction (haemolysis) of the red blood cells of the foetus by maternal antibodies which pass through the placenta into the foetal blood stream. This most commonly happens when the foetal red blood cells are rhesus positive & the mother's red cells are rhesus negative. The destruction of the infant's red blood cells may result in anaemia, jaundice, hydrops foetalis or stillbirth. In hydrops foetalis, profound anaemia leads to chronic heart failure, causing oedema & enlargement of the liver.
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