HA NOI (VNS) — The practice of screening newborns' blood for congenital diseases is meeting fierce opposition from families, said Ta Quang Huy, director of the Ha Noi Department of Population and Family Planning.
Blood samples taken from the heel can reveal thyroid gland issues, which indicate conditions like mental retardation, jaundice and anaemia. But many families refused to allow the samples to be taken for spiritual reasons and fear that the babies would be hurt, Huy said.
Moreover, while the samples must be taken two or three days after birth, many mothers were discharged from hospitals before this point.
More than 20 per cent of newborns received screenings in 2012 and 31 per cent were screened last year, according to the department.
Nguyen Van Anh, the mother of a five-month-old daughter who lives in Ha Noi's Dong Da District, did not register her baby for a screening because her family did not have any genetic diseases.
"During my pregnancy, I went to the hospital regularly for prenatal check-ups and my daughter looked healthy when she was born, so the screening was not necessary," she said.
Last year the department joined with the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Ha Noi Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to hold 19 training courses on newborn screening and taking heel blood samples for nearly 900 medical workers. They also held 29 training courses for commune, ward and town population workers.
By 2015, the department aims for 98 per cent of pregnant women in Ha Noi to receive information on prenatal and newborn screening and 90 per cent of newborns to be screened.
The Ha Noi Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology set up the Centre for Prenatal and Newborn Screening in February to conduct such tests. — VNS