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J Inherit Metab Dis. 2007 Aug;30(4):482-9. Epub 2007 Aug 15.

Newborn screening: experiences in the Middle East and North Africa.

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National Laboratory for Newborn Screening, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, MBC-03, PO Box 3354, Riyadh, 11211, Saudi Arabia.


This review presents the current experiences with newborn screening in the Middle East and North Africa region. The population in the region is about 400 million, with high birth rate and an estimated 10 million newborns per year. The majority of the population is of the Islamic faith and mostly Arab. The population is characterized by a high consanguinity (25-70%) and a high percentage of first-cousin marriages. Haemoglobin disorders, inherited metabolic disorders, neurogenetic disorders and birth defects are relatively common among the population. There is a rather slow progress in developing and implementing preventive genetic programmes owing to legal, cultural, political and financial issues. Although research spending is rather soft in the region, there are numerous pilot studies that highlighted the high incidence of genetic defects and the need for newborn screening programmes. Currently, there are only four countries that are executing national newborn screening but they vary from one disease to 23 and coverage is not complete. The region needs to take big steps towards developing national strategies for prevention and should learn from experiences of regional and international screening programmes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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