Thalassemia is preventable. A single test before marriage or before planning a child can prevent the birth of a thalassemic child, a doctor said at a seminar on thalassemia on Saturday.
More awareness campaigns are required to inform people that preventing thalassemia is so simple, said Ramendu Hom Chaudhuri, an orthopaedic surgeon.
A genetic disorder, thalassemia is passed on to children from their parents.
Mayor Firhad Hakim, who was present at the seminar organised by the Rotary International, promised to dedicate all hoardings in Kolkata for thalassemia prevention messages on May 8, which is World Thalassemia Day.
“One has to do a simple test called the HPLC test before they get married. This test will show if the parents are carriers of thalassemia. If both the parents are found to be carriers, there would be a 25 per cent probability that the child would suffer from the same,” said Chaudhuri.
Dipanjana Dutta, a genetic counsellor, said she did not advocate pre-marriage screening but always supported preconception screening.
Dutta, who was not present at the seminar, said not all kinds of thalassemia require blood transfusion.
If a couple did not undergo the HPLC test earlier, they should undergo the test
before they plan a child, said Soumya Mukherjee, a haemato oncologist with the Ruby General Hospital.
He was not a participant in Saturday’s seminar.
“A pregnant woman can undergo CVS or amniocentesis tests that would help determine whether the child could be thalassemic. I would advise couples who did not undergo the HPLC test to do the CVS test,” said Mukherjee.
If it is found that the child could be thalassemic, the couple could opt for medical termination of pregnancy.