Human blood types

This section covers:

See also Biological structure and function and Immunoglobulins

International standards and resources

The International Society for Blood Transfusion defines the terminology associated with human blood groups.

Australian conventions and resources

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service and the National Blood Authority both provide information about blood groups and other blood-related terminology. 

Blood groups

The 2 major blood group (also called blood type) classifications are the ABO system and the rhesus system. Use capitals for the ABO system:

A     B     AB     O

Use lower case for the term group (or type):

His blood was group B.

The rhesus system consists of 50 defined blood-group antigens, among which the 5 antigens D, C, c, E and e are the most important. The commonly used terms Rh factor, Rh positive and Rh negative refer to the D antigen (which is the most immunogenic of the 5 Rh antigens). Use the following notation to denote the presence or absence of the D antigen:

Rh(D) positive     Rh(D) negative  [no space between Rh and (D)]          

Rhesus disease (hemolytic disease of the newborn) occurs if an RhD-negative woman carries an RhD-positive baby.

Treatment is with anti-RhD immunoglobulin (referred to in Australia as ‘anti-D’).

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Blood products

Use capital roman numerals to denote clotting factors and a lower-case initial f for factor:

factor VII     factor XI

Use lower case for other blood products:

antithrombin III     fibrogammin     protein C     prothrombin complex    

See also Immunoglobulins.

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