Premarital Screening and Genetic Counseling

Premarital Screening and Genetic Counseling Premarital Screening and Genetic Counseling

The Genetics Office of the Population and Family Health Department at the Health Ministry has launched its Premarital Screening and Genetic Counseling Program, said Muhammad Esmaeil Motlaq, head of the department.

“The comprehensive program aims to reduce the burden of inherited diseases and genetic disorders,” he said, ISNA reported.

Identifying and referring suspected and clinically diagnosed cases of genetic disorders by a team of specialists and providing specialized and sub-specialized counseling are among the services offered by the Genetics Office.

“New developments in DNA technology, ultrasound scanning and assaying maternal blood factors greatly increase the potential for improving health,” he stressed.

Premarital or prenatal genetic counseling as well as screening programs throughout pregnancy including for Down syndrome and congenital disorders, screening programs during infancy and childhood for inherited metabolic disorders such as PKU (a rare inherited disorder that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in the body), and the chances of developing non-communicable diseases are among the goals of the program.

The number of children with genetic defects in Iran has increased by 5% during 2013-2014. Around 70,000 children, among the nearly 1.5 million births every year in the past there years, are born with genetic defects or inherited disorders. At present, there are 1.1 million people with disabilities, including 40,000 severely handicapped.

Preventive genetic services based on population screening are now an integral part of maternal and child health programs in many parts of the world. Mass screening and genetic counseling have been carried out widely, but they are not as effective as antenatal screening programs.

The program’s national network includes 416 genetic counseling centers supported by special teams comprising 400 counselors and 390 assisting specialists across universities of medical sciences, Motlaq added.