Blood-related marriages may face genetic problems: Doctors
Doctors at a conference in Dhaka have urged people to be aware of the disease impacts of marriages among the cousins and then take decisions.
“We can see many genetic disorders that can be prevented if consanguineous (blood related) marriages can be prevented,” Diabetic Association of Bangladesh President Prof AK Azad Khan said, citing Cyprus as an example.
Cyprus could reduce Thalassaemia significantly after they made couples aware of the disease, he said. Thalassaemia is a genetic blood disorder in which a person cannot make enough haemoglobin that leads to severe anaemia.
Cyprus made it mandatory for a blood test before cousins proceeded for marriage. “Based on the blood test, they were briefed in the Churches about the possible impacts of their marriage on their children,” Prof Khan said.
“Some still continued with their decision, but then they were highly advised to do a test during pregnancy. You can know any genetic deformity when the baby is in the womb and take a decision of termination”.
The Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (Ideshi) together with the Centre for Medical Biotechnology of the government organised the conference on Saturday on genetic disorders in Bangladesh.
Director General for Health Services Prof Abul Kalam Azad, ICDDR,B Executive Director Dr John Clemens, and Emeritus scientist Dr Firdausi Qadri who created ‘Ideshi’ spoke at the conference.
Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority Prof Naiyyum Choudhury chaired the opening session.
Presenting a paper, a child specialist Prof Dr Narayan Saha said there are approximately 10,000 rare diseases in the world, most of them are genetic in origin.
Statistics show 14,000 children are born with thalassaemia in Bangladesh a year.
“We don’t have data to comment on these diseases in Bangladesh, but the consanguineous marriage is very high here,” he said.
He stressed increasing capabilities to diagnose genetic disorders in Bangladesh. “We need both human resources and logistics in this field”.
Dr Md Kaiissar Mannoor, a scientist, said the rates of genetic disorders have “increased” with the drastic reduction of child deaths, since more children live beyond five years.
But “very little” had been done in Bangladesh in this field, he said.