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Coombs' Test

Coombs' Test is used to detect antibodies that can destroy red blood cells. There are two types of Coombs' Test, direct and indirect: the former looks directly at red blood cells, the latter looks at the plasma and is generally used to check compatibility of donor blood and the recipient. In the context of midwifery, it is used in prenatal testing of pregnant women to detect antibodies in order to prevent haemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN). The direct Coombs' test is performed after birth, using a sample of cord blood, to confirm Rh type, ABO blood group, haemoglobin and serum bilirubin levels and the presence of maternal antibodies on fetal red blood cells. A negative test indicates an absence of antibodies or sensitisation.

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