Blood groups are of 4 types broadly as A, B, AB & O group in humans. These groups also have a bifurcation as positive blood group (+) and Negative blood group (-) as A+ve, B+ve, AB+ve, O+ve and also similarly as A-ve, B-ve, AB-ve, O-ve groups. So the underlying difference of positive (+) and negative (-) arises due to a substance termed Rhesus antigen Rh or rhesus factor especially type D-antigen. If the blood of any person has this rhesus factor, he is assigned his blood group with a positive sign beside like B+, A+,O+ etc.. If this factor is not present in his blood, he is assigned a blood group with a negative sign as B-, A-, O- etc.
When a blood transfusion is done with incompatible blood group, there is a severe reaction inside the body leading to death. This instantaneous reaction occurs due to incompatible blood groups like A, B, AB & O are transfused but on the other hand, the incompatibility with positive and negative groups doesn’t show immediate reactions but show reactions after any subsequent incompatible infusions.
Rhesus Rh factor is again of different types like C, D, E, c, d, and e. Any person with C antigen doesn’t have c-antigen and that with D-antigen doesn’t have d antigen and similar in E also. So a person can have a blood group with any of the above rhesus factors but Rh-D is widely prevalent and hence persons with Rh-D are termed as +ve and those without Rh-D are termed as -ve.
Rh factor and pregnancy: When a mother has Rh-ve blood group and if the baby in the womb has Rh+ve group then there are chances of development of incompatible antigens for that blood group in the mother but may not affect the present baby. But in second pregnancy, if the baby has Rh+ve blood group, then there are compatibility issues as the antigens already formed due to first pregnancy are present. So this may lead to abortion or death of the baby of second or any further pregnancy.