Cousin marriages “increase the chances” of getting a serious disease.
ISLAMABAD: Monday, a public health expert said that cousin or close-relative marriages increase the chances of getting thalassemia, a very serious disease.
On World Thalassemia Day, Dr. Quaid Saeed, the head of the Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority (IHRA), said, “Couples with similar genetic makeup are more likely to have a child with thalassemia.”
Dr. Saeed said that prenatal screening can help find thalassemia in the fetus, and that letting people in the area know about it is a key part of keeping the number of people with thalassemia down.
He said that thalassemia can’t be stopped, but there are ways to lower a baby’s risk of getting it. These include genetic testing of parents to see if they have the thalassemia gene, prenatal screening, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and public education and awareness about thalassemia.
He said that thalassemia is an autosomal recessive disease that is genetically passed down from either or both parents.
Dr. Saeed said, “It affects the red blood cells because of a change in the genes, which causes the alpha or beta-globin bands to break down. This means that the body doesn’t make enough red blood cells and that the organs don’t get enough oxygenated blood (anaemia).
He said that the country has a lot of people with thalassemia. It affects women all over the world, and many of these babies are born with thalassemia major. Most of these babies were born in poor or developing countries, he said.
The doctor said that treating major thalassemia can be very expensive and may involve stem cell transfers, constant blood transfusions, and chelation therapy.
He also said that it is better to avoid birth defects like thalassemia before birth than to keep trying to treat them after birth.
Dr. Saeed said that World Thalassemia Day is a global health event that is celebrated every year on May 8. The goal is to raise awareness about the disease among the local public and lawmakers, as well as to support and boost the spirits of those who have been fighting it for years.
He said that on this day, many local and foreign organizations, patient groups, public authorities, and health care workers get together to talk about how important it is to screen, counsel, prevent, manage, or treat thalassemia in a way that puts the patient first.
He said that World Thalassemia Day can be one of the good times for private and government organizations to run public education and health care programs for pregnant women, such as genetic screening, counseling, and prenatal diagnosis.
On this day, organizations can also come up with new plans and policies for people with thalassemia, such as giving them free blood donations or giving them money.