Go for genotype screening before marriage, scientists urge couples

Some laboratory scientists say it is important for intending couples to know their genotype status before marriage to prevent Sickle Cell Disorder.

The two laboratory scientists made the recommendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Saturday.

They spoke in commemoration of World Sickle Day marked annually on June 19.

NAN reports that World Sickle Cell Day is a United Nation’s recognised day to raise awareness on sickle cell disorder at the national and international level.

Mr. Vincent Izuchukwu, who is the Managing Partner of Alpha Diagnostic Centre, Okota, Lagos State, lamented the unfortunate increase in sickle cell gene in Nigeria, noting that the condition was highly preventable with proper screening.

According to him, sickle cell disease is a group of blood disorders typically inherited from a person’s parents, noting that the most common type is known as sickle cell anemia (disorder).

He explained that if a hemoglobin SS or AS gene person marries another hemoglobin AS gene carrier, the tendency that they would give birth to SS (sickle cell) gene offspring was very high.

“Hemoglobin SS disease is the most common type of sickle cell disorder. It occurs when you inherit copies of the hemoglobin S gene from both parents. This forms hemoglobin known as Hb SS.

“That is why people must have pre-marital testing and counselling before going into marriage or reproduction process.

“Children are only at risk of sickle cell disorder if both parents carry sickle cell trait.

“A blood test called a hemoglobin electrophoresis can help to determine which type you might carry,” he told NAN.

He attributed the increase in sickle cell cases to wrong diagnoses and called on laboratory management to do their best to correct past mistakes and ensure containment of the disorder.

Izuchuwu advised that such tests should be conducted in more than one or two reputable health facilities to ascertain accurate and reliable results/information.

“To get accurate information about one’s genotype status, it is advisable to conduct the test more than one or two times and at different reputable health facilities irrespective of the costs.

“This is because it will be more economical to have the accurate information about your genotype before marriage and marry the right compatible genotype partner than to reproduce SCD offspring and face the complications and financial burden associated with it.

“Unfortunately, some people still ignorantly jump into marriage in the name of ‘love’ without due pre-marital tests or with information that both parties carry sickle cell trait,” Izuchukwu said.

Also speaking, Mr. Abayomi Okunade, another laboratory scientist, called on the Federal Government to upgrade diagnostic facilities in public hospitals for improved performance and to contain SCD in the country.

Okunade also appealed to the federal and state governments to donate equipment to private laboratories for enhanced diagnosis.

He said this was necessary to stem the incidence of the disorder because private laboratories received a greater number of clients for pre-marital testing and counseling. 


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