Hemolytic Disease and Reticulocytopenia of the Newborn Attributable to Maternal Immunoglobulin G Anti-M Reacting Optimally at Cold Temperatures

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Background: Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN) attributable to anti-M is rare, although case reports implicate anti-M in varying severities of HDFN, including fetal hydrops and intrauterine death. Case Description: We describe the case of a newborn with HDFN associated with an atypical immunoglobulin (Ig) G anti-M that reacted best at cold temperatures. The maternal antibody detected in pregnancy was not reactive at 37°C, and a direct antiglobulin test (DAT) on red blood cells (RBCs) from the newborn was negative, suggesting an anti-M that should not have been clinically relevant. However, the infant developed hyperbilirubinemia (bilirubin level, 17.6 mg/dL), hemolytic anemia (hemoglobin nadir, 5.5 g/dL), and reticulocytopenia. Laboratory testing demonstrated the presence of an IgG anti-M in maternal and neonatal samples reacting best at 4°C. This passively acquired IgG anti-M provoked hemolytic anemia in the infant and likely suppressed erythropoiesis, resulting in reticulocytopenia with prolonged anemia. He was treated for IgG anti-M HDFN with 10 intravenous Ig infusions and 10 days of oral prednisone followed by a taper. He required seven transfusions with M− RBCs. His hemoglobin level normalized at 3 months of age. Follow-up at 2 years revealed no hematologic or neuro-developmental concerns. Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the second report of HDFN attributable to an IgG anti-M reacting preferentially at cold temperature with no 37°C reactivity. Clinically relevant IgG anti-M may elude standard testing. Early recognition and testing for cold-reacting IgG anti-M should be considered for newborns with hemolysis, a negative DAT, and prolonged anemia.