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[A community-based genetic screening of large-scale population and prenatal diagnosis for alpha and beta thalassemia in Zhuhai city of Guangdong province].

[Article in Chinese]

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Zhuhai Municipal Maternity and Child Healthcare Hospital, Zhuhai, Guangdong, 519001, People's Republic of China.



To describe a community-based model for prevention and control of severe alpha and beta thalassemias in Zhuhai city of Guangdong province.


Couples for premarital medical examination or regular healthcare examination in pregnancy were enrolled in this prospective screening program, which was supported by the two-level network composed of 6 local hospitals for testing thalassemias and follow-up for genetic counseling. A conventional heterozygote screening strategy was used to determine alpha and beta thalassemia traits in women and their partners according to the standard procedures of hematological phenotype analysis. Then confirmative diagnosis of alpha and beta thalassemia was performed on those couples suspected at-risk for severe thalassemia by using the PCR-based molecular diagnostic assays. The couples at-risk for severe thalassemia were counseled and offered prenatal diagnosis and termination of pregnancy in case of an affected fetus.


During the period between January 1998 and December 2005, the screened records included 85522 young females and their partners for premarital screening and 10439 pregnant women for prenatal screening, with 71.38% coverage of total population recorded in this city for premarital screening. Six thousands five hundreds and sixty-three individuals in total were found to be the carriers of thalassemias, with 4312 for alpha thalassemia (4.5%) and 2251 for beta thalassemia (2.3%), respectively. One hundred and forty-eight couples were diagnosed to be at-risk for thalassemias, including 103 for alpha thalassemia and 45 for beta thalassemia, respectively. Successful prenatal diagnosis was made for 142 (98 for alpha thalassemia and 44 for beta thalassemia) out of 148 (95.9%) pregnancies at-risk for severe thalassemias. Twenty-three cases of hydrops fetalis, 4 of Hb H diseases and 14 of beta thalassemia were identified. All 41 pregnancies with affected fetuses were voluntarily terminated. Thus, this has led to a marked decrease of severe thalassemia syndrome since the program started.


We presented the first community-based prospective screening program in China for control of alpha and beta thalassemia in Zhuhai city with a population of 1.29 million through premarital or prenatal screening. This model could be used for control of thalassemias and other hemoglobinopathies in other regions of China and also in other developing countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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