NAIT is characterised by the destruction of platelets in the fetus or newborn in response to certain platelet antigens (surface proteins) that the fetus has inherited paternally but are not present in the mother. Platelets are the smallest type of cells that circulate in the bloodstream and are important in preventing and stopping bleeding.
The mother sees these antigens as “foreign” and may respond by producing antibodies against these intruders. Antibodies, an important part of the body’s immune system, may cross the placenta, enter the baby’s bloodstream and destroy her unborn baby’s platelets. Spontaneous bleeding into the brain ICH (intracranial hemorrhage) or other major organs may occur putting the baby at serious risk of death or permanent brain damage causing lifelong disabilities.
Occurring in approximately 1:1000 pregnancies NAIT is the most common cause of severely low platelets in an otherwise healthy neonate and is often undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed. Signs apparent at birth may include petechiae which is bruising that appears when blood vessels (capillaries) rupture and leak into the skin. The blood test that parents undergo to ascertain if they have a platelet antigen mismatch is called HPA genotyping.
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Research and treatment protocols are ongoing.
Always consult a qualified medical specialist in this field. Cases of neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia should be managed in specialised Fetal Medicine Units.
We are not medical doctors. All references and materials are for educational and information purposes only.