Experts for pre-marriage blood test to prevent Thalassemia


By Dilara Hossain

DHAKA, May 07, 2018 (BSS) – Experts have suggested conducting blood tests of both male and female before getting married aiming to prevent giving birth of an infant with Thalassemia, a genetically inherited deadly disease transmitted to babies by parents.

“Both male and female should go for a detailed blood test before going to get married to find out the symptoms of possible emerging of the chronic disease Thalassemia,” secretary general at Bangladesh Thalassemia Foundation Dr M Abdur Rahim told BSS.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen. The disorder results in excessive destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anemia. Anemia is a condition in which human body does not have enough normal, healthy red blood cells.

Thalassemia is inherited, meaning that at least one of parents must be a carrier of the disease. It is caused by either a genetic mutation or a deletion of certain key gene fragments.

“The ‘Thalassemia major’ occurs when a person inherits two Thalassemia genes, one from each parent. Both parents may have ‘Thalassemia minor’ but when two individuals who have ‘Thalassemia minor’ get married, there is a 25 percent possibility that any pregnancy can result in a child with Thalassemia major,” Dr Rahim said.

The physicians also suggested avoiding intra-family marriage to keep themselves away from giving birth to a Thalassemia trait infant.

Director of Dhaka Shishu Hospital Prof Dr Manzoor Hussain said: “If we can introduce the anti-natal screening system in our country, we can decrease the rate of the disease by terminating the Thalassemia positive unborn.”

Voicing concern over the increase of Thalassemia patients in the country, they said the number of Thalassemia patients is on the rise day by day for lack of proper knowledge about the genetic disease.

They stressed the need for creating awareness among people to prevent this deadly disease.

Noting that survival of the affected individuals depends on regular blood transfusions to the patients, the physicians said it is the biggest burden for transfusion services.

The main types of Thalassemia are called alpha Thalassemia and beta Thalassemia. The alpha and beta refer to which hemoglobin gene is affected, and which of the hemoglobin chains is faulty. There are some rarer types too.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), about 7 percent of the Bangladesh’s population is carriers of beta-Thalassemia while four percent are carriers of HbE (Classification of Alpha).