150,000 children born with sickle cell annually in Nigeria

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By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos.
It is estimated that 150,000 children are born with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in Nigeria annually, even as World Health Organization moves to reduce the rate.
A fact sheet released by Pathcare Laboratories entitled:  “Premarital Genotype Assessment; Why Test Before Marriage?” disclosed this development.
“SCD is prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa and it is estimated 24 per cent of Nigerians are carriers of the defective gene,” the source reported.
It pointed out that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is common knowledge that if AS genotype individuals have children there is a 25 per cent chance of having a child with SS genotype along with its attendant problems.
Stressing the importance of premarital genotype diagnosis in order to have healthy citizens free of the menace of SCD and to reduce healthcare costs, the source narrated that couples at risk of having affected children can be identified through reliable blood test.
“Appropriate counseling and intervention,” it said, “can prevent SCD in offspring.
“Capillary Zone Electrophoresis (CZE) is the most accurate technology available today,” Pathcare explained.
It pointed out that CZE gives a more specific, quantitative result in a wider spectrum of haemoglobin abnormalities.
The lab firm stated that WHO is trying to reduce the incidence of sickle cell disease by counseling young couples against marrying each other if they both have the sickle cell or share the same haemoglobin abnormalities.
“If couples with haemoglobin abnormalities such as the sickle cell trait, AS, decide to go ahead and get married, prenatal diagnosis of haemoglobin abnormalities is available, Pathcare counseled.
It recommended that all couples should also know their HIV and Hepatitis B status before marriage.
Haemoglobin is a red substance in the blood that carries oxygen and contains iron.

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