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Awareness plays pivotal role in controlling Thalassemia

ISLAMABAD, May 09 (APP): A public health expert on Tuesday said that couples with similar genetic makeup are more likely to deliver a kid with thalassemia.

Chief Executive Officer Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority (IHRA) Dr Quaid Saeed said that prenatal screening can aid in identifying the condition of thalassemia at the foetal stage, and its awareness among local people plays a pivotal role in controlling the thalassemia numbers.

He said that although thalassemia cannot be prevented, only some measures can reduce the risk of having this disease in newborns including parent genetic test for the presence of thalassemia gene, prenatal screening, preimplantation genetic diagnosis and provision of public awareness and education about thalassemia.

He said that thalassaemia is an inherited (genetically transmitted) autosomal recessive disorder acquired from parents (either or both).

Dr Saeed said,“It affects the red blood cells due to a genetic mutation, leading to the depletion of haemoglobin’s alpha or beta-globin chains. This results in low production of red blood cells and a lack of oxygenated blood supply to the body parts (anaemia).”

He said that there are many cases of thalassemia in the country. It affects pregnancies worldwide, of which many have thalassemia major, and most of these patients were born in poor or underdeveloped nations, he added.

He said that the treatment for major thalassemia can be exceedingly expensive and may involve stem cell transplants, continual blood transfusions, and chelation therapy.

It is, therefore, essential to prevent congenital defects (thalassemia) before birth rather than keep trying to treat the condition after birth, he added.

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