What is it?
Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder that's caused due to absence of and errors in genes that produce haemoglobin, which is a vital component of red blood cells. The extent of the disorder is dependent on gene mutation. In India, one out of 25 people are thalassemia carriers.
How does it affect maternal health and newborns?
A thalassemic woman, (pregnant or otherwise) suffers from folic acid deficiency, which may result in her baby to be born with neurological challenges. Experts recommend that the partner/ spouse get a screening done for thalassemia as well.
What’s more, stress and low immunity levels during pregnancy can aggravate certain symptoms surrounding the disorder, further leading to a host of other physical and mental health complications for the expectant mother.
Note: If both parents are thalassemia minor carriers, the chances of having a child with thalassemia major can be as much as up to 25%
How does awareness help?
Being aware will simply help understand the disorder better so that preventive/ corrective steps can be taken. A prenatal diagnostic test will assist parents in identifying if their unborn child is a thalassemic major. Those planning a family can get themselves checked to ensure a future where you know what’s coming next. Parental awareness, genetic counselling, and workshops, are other ways to reduce the numbers.