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Public Health. 1997 May;111(3):153-6.

Pre-marriage prevention of thalassaemia: report of a 100,000 case experience in Isfahan.

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Isfahan University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Iran.



Iran like other middle east countries has a large number of major thalassaemics. Due to religious restrictions on abortion, the routine prevention of the birth of thalassaemic children by this means is not possible. The aim of this study is to describe an alternative means to prevent the birth of thalassaemic children.


From January 1993 to January 1996, 10,000 people preparing for marriage were screened for the thalassaemia trait, using CBC and HbA2 level measurement. High risk couples were referred for further consultation regarding the disease and the means of its prevention. The proposed actions of the couples regarding thalassaemia prevention were evaluated immediately after consultation and then re-evaluated three months later.


After the project had been running for three years the average of high risk couple initially deciding not to marry was 90% and no new cases of thalassemia were detected in the children of the screened population.


Where both members of the couple were trait-positive their preferred choice was not to marry, rather than to marry and use other or no methods of preventing a thalassemia affected child being born to them. Cultural and religious ideas can affect such decisions and in some Islamic countries the establishment and use of a genetic counselling centre can help prevent most of new thalassaemia cases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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