Author(s): AlSuliman A
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The Al-Hassa area is one of the regions in Saudi Arabia where hemoglobinopathies are prevalent. The Saudi Ministry Of Heath designed a protocol for premarital testing after the royal decree in December 2003. The protocol was implemented in a February 2004 order. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of beta-thalassemia trait among subjects coming for premarital screening in the Al-Hassa area. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: From February 2004 to November 2004, healthy subjects coming to six marriages consultation centers in the Al-Hassa area underwent routine mandatory tests. Subjects were considered to have beta-thalassemia trait if they had a mean corpuscular volume (MCV) <80 fL and/or a mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) <27 pg and a hemoglobin A2 level >3.2\%. Venous blood was taken into an EDTA tube and the complete blood count and red blood cell indices were measured by a Coulter automated cell counter on the same day of hemoglobin collection. Electrophoresis was done on cellulose acetate. RESULTS: All Saudi participants (n=8918), including 4218 (47.3\%) males and 4700 (52.7\%) females were screened. The prevalence of beta-thassemia trait with high hemoglobin A2 and microcytic hypochromic anemia was 3.4\% (307/8918). CONCLUSION: In countries with a high prevalence of hemoglobinopathies, a premarital screening program is helpful for identification and prevention of high-risk marriages. With a 3.4\% prevalence of beta-thalassemia trait in premarital couples, future comprehensive programs are needed to know the actual prevalence of beta-thalassemia in Al-Hassa.
This article was published in Ann Saudi Med
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics