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‘Experts call for early blood typing’
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DUBAI: A visiting official and a member of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (Figo) said the general public must go for early blood typing.

Switzerland-headquartered Figo is the global non-government organisation of 42 national societies and 124 professional societies of obstetricians and gynaecologists.

Figo-Standing Committee for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health chairman Prof Gerard Visser from The Netherlands and committee member/South Asian Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology president Dr Rubina Sohail from Pakistan took their stand on the need for early blood typing protocols worldwide on Thursday at the ongoing “Figo Middle East & Africa Regional Conference” in Dubai.

They also called for government intervention and the adherence to blood typing protocols when they talked about the global burden of the Rh blood group in relation to pregnancy and the consequent Haemolytic Disease of the Foetus and Newborn (HDFN).

All Rh negative women are at risk of Rh sensitisation, the condition that can lead to HDFN. Global records from decades back have shown that these women suffer from repeated miscarriages and stillbirths.

If their infants survive, the children grow up to be afflicted with Rh kernicterus (brain damage resulting from high levels of bilirubin in the baby’s blood because his liver could not rid of it leading to atheloid cerebral palsy and hearing loss).

According to Visser, current global records revealed that because of the untreated Rh negative blood among pregnant women and mothers, there has been a 50 per cent mortality rate among babies annually.

At least 40,000 children worldwide are suffering from Rh kernicterus and cerebral palsy (the loss or impairment of motor function due to brain damage) as a result of HDFN.

According to the Middle East data, seven per cent of the women in Egypt and Saudi Arabia are Rh negative.

“In the UAE, about 10 per cent of women have Rh negative blood type. Therefore, approximately 15,000 pregnant women per year are at risk of Rh sensitisation and their unborn children at risk of HDFN,” said Visser.

Rh negative blood type is 15 per cent among Europeans and other Caucasians, 1.4 per cent to 19.5 per cent among South and Central Americans, three to 15 per cent in Africans, 11 per cent in Pakistanis, 4.3 per cent in Indians and 0.5 per cent among the Chinese, Indonesians and Japanese.

The first case of HDFN occurred at the royal court of France in 1602; but, it was not until 1932 that it was considered as HDFN.

Visser and Sohail raised the alarm because even 50 years after the discovery of the Anti-D Immunoglobulin that treats the blood disorder among Rh negative women, Rh sensitisation and HDFN are still a huge problem especially in poor and developing countries. 

Interviewed, Welcare Hospital in Dubai, conference delegate obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Gazala Khan said blood typing among children has become a standard in the UAE.

“If they have not been blood typed, their parents and their schools must let them go for this.”

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