Why you need to know your blood group

Monday September 9 2019

Knowing a person’s exact blood type is critical

Knowing a person’s exact blood type is critical when a blood transfusion is necessary. FILE PHOTO 

By Paul Murungi

“What could have caused my first child to die at birth and the next four pregnancies to result in miscarriages. Should I get another man?” that was part of a a distraught woman’s question during a health show on one local television station.
The doctor on the show responded that her blood group was the main cause for the problem. He said her blood had reacted negatively to her husband’s blood hence the cause of miscarriages and death of their first born child.
The above scenario is one of the reasons you need to know your blood group.

What is a blood group?
Dr Ismail Tamale at Taimex Nutrition Centre, defines a blood group as a class of blood separated according to different antigens. Antigens are substances capable of stimulating an immune response in the body. They separate and determine the characteristics of the different blood types.
Blood groups are classified in groups of A, B, O and AB. Blood groups A, B and AB are more superior to O.
Dr Joseph Mutyaba, a senior medical officer at LifeLink Hospital in Kampala explains that a person’s blood type is usually determined at birth. This depends on the blood type or group of both parents.
Dr Mutyaba explains that a person’s blood group exists in pairs for example AO. During pregnancy, a child acquires a single group from each parent to make a pair. For instance, if a father has blood group A and a mother has blood group O, the child will end up with blood group AO.
It is written as AO because blood group A is said to be superior to blood group O.
“A child’s blood group also determines their personal characteristics and attributes in terms of height, behaviour and speech,” Mutyaba says, adding: “That’s why a parent may have five children with different blood groups. In case a parent has carrier diseases such as sickle cell anaemia or diabetes, there are high chances that not all children will have the disease depending on the pair of blood group a child has!”
“In humans, when an ovum of a female meets a sperm which are called the nuclei, each of the nuclei has one copy of the gene called the DNA. This is what determines which blood group a child shall possess. Blood group formation starts from the DNA made from the bone marrows and it dictates what kind of blood a person will have. Blood groups also form anti bodies which fight any other blood group apart from the DNA. For instance, if you have blood group A, it forms anti bodies that fight blood group B and AB.

O is a universal blood group because all other blood groups do not form anti bodies against it.
If your blood has the protein, you are Rh positive. If your blood lacks the protein, you are Rh negative.
These are sub grouped into positive and negative. In the sub group there’s A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O- and AB+ and AB-.
Dr Mutyaba says current statistics in Uganda indicate that blood group O is the most dorminant at 49 per cent in the population. The reason behind is that the genetic component of most Ugandans is blood group O and this makes us understand why blood group O is on demand.
Blood group A is at 27 per cent, B 25 per cent and AB is at three per cent among Ugandans. The rarest blood group is called Rhesus with an initial of (Rh). Rhesus is classified as positive or negative, Rhesus (Rh) factor is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells.

Blood groups and fertility
There’s a strong correlation between fertility and blood groups. Still births, miscarriages and a baby’s death at birth could be a result of a reaction of different blood groups from both a man and woman especially those with a Rhesus factor in their blood.
“When a person decides to have children, we usually have issues with blood groups for instance if a woman has a blood type which is negative and gets a man who has a positive blood type; there is a 50 per cent chance that a child will be positive.”
Dr Mutyaba explains that a pregnant woman with Rhesus negative blood type has a capability of making anti bodies if the foetus has a positive blood type. This may arise when there’s a mixture of the mother’s blood with the foetus or unborn baby. In this case it can result in a miscarriage or still birth. Such miscarriages and still births cases may continue unless the mother goes for vaccination during pregnancy to stop the blood from forming the anti-bodies against the babies.
He says if the baby survives at birth, they may die in the next two to three days.
Dr Mutyaba notes that to avoid such cases, a pregnant woman needs to have periodical visits to hospitals to have an anti- D vaccine to nuetralise the reaction of blood of both mother and foetus.
“It is important for expectant mothers to keep on getting immunised to protect their unborn child from the antibodies of Rhesus negative blood,” he says
“Many people get pregnant, and do not carry out all the neccesary tests. When things go wrong, that is when they rush to hospital. If a man with a positive component in his blood group and a woman with negative blood decide to have children, they have to keep going to hospital for vaccines.”

Blood type and personality
According to Dr Tamale, blood groups can determine a person’s character and personality.
“Blood groups in the body react according to where the stress profile lies. For example, the blood group O stress profile lies in the muscles. Such people are combative and stubborn in nature,” he says.
He adds: “When a person with blood group O is annoyed, they can yell, shout and can beat you up. After that, they calm down and apologise.”
Dr Tamale says people with blood group A are very reserved, quiet, they hate being disturbed and prefer being alone most of the time. They also hate strenuous things because their stress profile doesn’t lie in the muscle. This explains that those with blood group B are friendly, easy going, and have powerful stress control techniques.
People with AB blood group are very unpredictable. Sometimes they are friendly, other times they are not. Dr Tamale says blood groups helps a person to handle stress by knowing their personality types. Each blood group has a system to handle stress.

Blood groups and diet.
Do blood groups influence what we should eat? Dr Tamale says it is important a person knows their blood type and the foods recommended for a particular group. Dr Tamale notes that the foods we eat contain lectins. These are naturally occurring proteins in foods such as legumes which react differently with body cells.
“If the lectins in your food are not compatible with your blood group, the lectins react with the body cells pushing the system down. The lectins are also dangerous because they can lock themselves into the body system causing infections which cannot easily be detected. The more you eat such food, the more it breaks down the body cells. That is why most people end up with lifestyle diseases.”
Please note that to achieve a diet that is compatible with a person’s blood group, one needs to work closely with a nutritionist.


Know your blood group
“Many people die during accidents and there is need to encourage people to donate blood. Sometimes we look for blood and fail. Hospitals and theaters can’t survive if we don’t have blood. In case of an emergency, people need to know their blood groups for easy screening for instance when there’s need for blood, it makes it easier if there’s a document showing a person’s blood type,” Dr Mutyaba explains
“Those intending to get married need to know their blood group,” Mutyaba notes, “this will prevent cases of children dying due to the differences in positive and negative Rhesus.”
Meanwhile, during transfusion, Dr Mutyaba says it helps in determining which blood group to use depending on one’s type. And those who are actually to receive blood, doctors have to cross match and to determine which type of blood to use.
“If blood group A is mixed with blood group B during blood transfusion, you are going to cause a massive destruction leading to death due to transmission reactions,” he cautions.
However, blood group O can be used in transfusion to other blood groups in case of emergencies due to its universal nature.

What You Can Eat

Type O blood: A high-protein diet heavy on lean meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and light on grains, beans, and dairy.

Type A blood: A meat-free diet based on fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains -- ideally, organic and fresh,

Type B blood: Avoid corn, wheat, buckwheat, lentils, tomatoes, peanuts, and sesame seeds. Chicken is also problematic

Type AB blood: Foods to focus on include tofu, seafood, dairy, and green Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoked or cured meats.

Compiled from www.webmd.com