As my wife entered the 23rd week of her second pregnancy, we were faced with the news that the new baby is at risk from the same condition that affected our son Freddie at birth. There’s a 50/50 chance.
NAIT (Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia) is caused when the mother’s and baby’s blood platelets become incompatible.
NAIT can have a devastating effect on anyone wanting to start a family without them even knowing about it
The mother’s body produces antibodies in reaction to antigens which are different from her own.
During pregnancy these antibodies cross the placenta and attach to the baby’s blood. Often this condition isn’t picked up until birth.
The outcome can vary for babies born with NAIT. However, in some extreme cases the baby can die. Often, the foetus can suffer a bleed or brain haemorrhage, which again can be fatal.
In Freddie’s case, his platelet count was extraordinarily low at birth. He suffered a brain haemorrhage (stroke) post-30 weeks gestation and a couple of smaller bleeds on the brain at/after birth.
As new parents we were devastated.
However, we’ve been so lucky with Freddie and his many consultants have been delighted with his progress. He is a normal 14-month-old and shows no sign of the brain injuries he received before and during birth.
Then again, you read stories of babies born with half a brain, for instance, who carry on to lead a near-normal life.
Following the positive amniocentesis test result, Sarah started weekly transfusions of drugs preventing the process happening again, protecting our little one.
This condition is quite rare, but now specialists are beginning to understand more about it with more cases being treated.
We’d suffered several miscarriages before Freddie came along and we also found that Sarah had a high number of ‘natural killer cells’ in her body. In other words, a very strong immune system.
Coupled with her antibodies attacking Freddie’s platelets, it’s a miracle he’s here at all. NAIT can have a devastating effect on anyone wanting to start a family without them even knowing about it. This is why Sarah and I wanted to share our story with you.