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January 21, 2005


Question from Hawaii, USA:

I received Rhogam shots since I have negative blood and husband is positive. My daughter is Rh positive. At 12, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Have there been any studies done or is there any correlation between Rh incompatibility and type 1 diabetes?


A quick computerized search of the medical literature from 1966 until the end of 2004 did not find any references to Rhogam and future development of type 1 diabetes mellitus in the mother’s offspring. I did a more detailed search trying to cross-reference the etiology and epidemiology and similar terms and maternal-fetal blood incompatibility and found eight references. A quick review of these eight suggested that only three really discussed type 1 diabetes in the CHILD (as opposed to maternal gestational diabetes of the mother) with blood group incompatibility. In the three articles, one only gave identifiable data on Rh issues suggesting only a slight risk (only about one a half times the risk). On the other hand, having a blood type incompatibility of Types A, B, or O, gave a nearly a four times risk! The other article I briefly reviewed only gave broader data in terms of blood incompatibility; I did not see data indicating Rh versus A-B-O.

These papers were from the same authors who reviewed epidemiology data: reviews of birth records, health registries and such from Sweden, where there is the world’s near highest incidence of type 1 diabetes.