Human Body

Blood and Circulation

What is the Rh factor?

In addition to the ABO system of blood types, blood types can also be grouped by the Rhesus factor, or Rh factor, an inherited blood characteristic. Discovered independently in 1939 by Philip Levine (1900–1987) and R.E. Stetson and in 1940 by Karl Landsteiner and A.S. Weiner, the Rh system classifies blood as either having the Rh factor or lacking it. Pregnant women are carefully screened for the Rh factor. If a mother is found to be Rh-negative, the father is also screened. Parents with incompatible Rh factors can lead to potentially fatal blood problems in newborn infants. The condition can be treated with a series of blood transfusions.


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