BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

We recently demonstrated that direct antiglobulin titer (DAT) positive, blood group A or B newborns born to group O mothers had a high incidence of hyperbilirubinemia, attributable to increased hemolysis. We reanalyzed our data asking whether increasing DAT strength plays a modulating role in the pathophysiology of the hemolysis and hyperbilirubinemia.

METHODS:

Data from previously published DAT-positive, ABO-heterospecific neonates were analyzed for hyperbilirubinemia and hemolysis according to strength of DAT. DAT was measured by using a gel agglutination technique and reported as values ranging from DAT ± to DAT ++++. Hemolysis was evaluated by blood carboxyhemoglobin corrected for inspired, ambient CO (COHbc), and expressed as percent total hemoglobin (tHb). Hyperbilirubinemia was defined as any plasma total bilirubin value >95th percentile on the hour-specific nomogram.

RESULTS:

Hyperbilirubinemia was more prevalent in those with DAT ++ readings (16 of 20, 80%) than those both DAT ± (37 of 87 [42.5%], relative risk: 1.88, 95% confidence interval: 1.35–2.61) and DAT + (32 of 56 [57.1%], relative risk: 1.40, 95% confidence interval: 1.02–1.92). COHbc values were higher for those with DAT ++ (1.45 ± 0.49% tHb [mean ± SD]) than those DAT ± (1.20 ± 0.37% tHb, P = .01) or DAT + (1.22 ± 0.37% tHb, P = .02).

CONCLUSIONS:

DAT ++ readings were associated with a higher incidence of hyperbilirubinemia and higher COHbc values than DAT ± or DAT + counterparts. Increasing DAT strength may be a modulator of hemolysis and hyperbilirubinemia in ABO-heterospecific neonates. DAT strength, and not merely DAT presence or absence, should be taken into consideration in the management of ABO-heterospecific newborns.

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