Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Prenatal and postnatal screening programmes have helped detect health problems of infants in a timely manner, a hospital doctor said at a conference held in HCM City on Thursday.
Dr Nguyễn Khắc Hân Hoan of Từ Dũ Hospital said that a 5-year-old girl, for example, was now healthy and attending kindergarten thanks to timely treatment of congenital hypothyroidism, which affects one of 3,000-4,000 newborns worldwide.
Congenital hypothyroidism results from an absent or underdeveloped thyroid gland or one that has developed but cannot make thyroid hormone, according to the British Thyroid Foundation. Babies with CHT cannot produce enough thyroid hormone for the body’s needs.
Dr Hoan said that if the girl had not been treated, she would have had poor growth, low energy and other health problems.
In 2016, nearly 20 infants at Từ Dũ Hospital were diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism.
The screenings at the hospital have also detected other abnormalities in newborns, such as G6PD deficiency, a hereditary abnormality in the activity of a red blood cell enzyme, which can provoke the sudden destruction of red blood cells and lead to hemolytic anemia with jaundice.
Screenings at the hospital have also detected congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which leads to low levels of cortisol and high levels of male hormones, causing development of male characteristics in females, and early puberty in both boys and girls.
“Women’s awareness of prenatal and postnatal screening has improved. They will go to the hospital even if it requires a payment,” Dr Hoan said, adding that Từ Dũ Hospital had screened more and more pregnant women and babies in recent years.
Last year, 50,586 infants received postnatal screening at the hospital, an increase of 3,640 compared to the number in 2015.
Dr Nguyễn Vạn Thông from Hùng Vương Hospital in HCM City said the number of infants receiving postnatal screening at the hospital increased year-by-year: 31,267 infants in 2016 from 24,908 in 2015.
The hospital plans to screen three more diseases such as galactosemia, which is an inherited condition in which the body is unable to properly digest galactose, a sugar found in all foods that contain milk.
It will also screen for phenylketonuria commonly known as PKU, an inherited disorder that increases the levels of a substance called phenylalanine in the blood, and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
Nguyễn Văn Hùng of the HCM City’s Family Planning and Population Division said that 233,425 infants had received postnatal screening since 2011.
Of the number, abnormalities were detected in 967 newborns. More than 90 per cent of these received continued surveillance and treatment at home and at health facilities.
More than 2,040 of 13,971 babies with abnormalities found during screening since 2011 have been aborted because of severe fetal defects.
The city plans to have 80 per cent of pregnant women and infants receiving prenatal and postnatal screening by 2020, he said.
Pregnant women from families with low income often cannot afford the screening because of the high fees, Hùng said, adding that there is also a shortage of qualified human resources for the screening programme.
Some hospitals lack equipment for screening congenital defects and cognitive abilities.
The conference was held by the HCM City’s Family Planning and Population Division. — VNS