Twice as Many Babies Born with Health Issues after Abolishment of Premarital Checks

September 21, 2016
By Zhao YushaEditor: Jane Wang
Twice as Many Babies Born with Health Issues after Abolishment of Premarital Checks

A young baby is sleeping.[31an.com]

 

Almost 1 million babies with birth defects were born annually in the 13 years after compulsory premarital medical check-ups were abolished in 2003.  

"Even though it is not compulsory any more, I still checked. It is our responsibility toward our future baby," a woman surnamed Su from Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, who got married in August, told the Global Times on Monday.

The premarital check-up aims to detect diseases that could affect newlyweds and their future children including infectious diseases such as AIDS or hepatitis, hereditary diseases and reproductive diseases, according to the official website of the Health and Family Planning Commission.

However, not every new couple in China shares Su's thoughts.

According to a report issued by China's top health body in 2012, 900,000 babies with birth defects were born annually in the decade after 2003, and the birth defect rate doubled after premarital medical check-ups were made voluntary, news site thepaper.cn reported on September 12.

In 2015, there are 16.55 million new born babies in China, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The birth defect rate in China was 5.6 percent in 2012.

Some 19.1 percent of babies which die as newborns do so because of birth defects, making it the second biggest cause of newborn death, according to thepaper.cn.

Abandoned babies

"Babies born with birth defects will be a huge burden for the whole family. Such a high rate of birth defects also causes a great loss for the whole country," Ge Junbo, a doctor of Zhongshan Hospital in Shanghai, was quoted as saying by thepaper.cn.

In 2013, a baby named Mumu (pseudonym) in Hefei, capital of East China's Anhui Province was diagnosed with a congenital heart malformation 10 days after she was born. Her parents said she had to have several operations in the weeks after her birth, Xinhua reported.

The baby's father surnamed Xu said that he has had to borrow loads of money to pay for medical treatment. And according to their doctor, Mumu will have to undergo a high-risk operation to replace one of her heart valves when she grows older. Also she will have to take anti-rejection drugs, which may lead to infertility.

Lei Dongzu, deputy chief of the First People's Hospital in Chenzhou, Central China's Hunan Province, told the Beijing Youth Daily in 2015 that it on average costs a family 1.09 million yuan ($163,000) to raise a baby with a severe birth defect.

Lei added that birth defects are also a reason for the high rate at which babies are abandoned in China.

About 100,000 babies are abandoned in China annually, and 99 percent of them have birth defects, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

Necessary check-up

"Currently, we have three measures to reduce the rate of birth defects, the first is voluntary premarital medical check-ups, then examinations during pregnancy, and we also advocate preventive measures after the baby is born," Sun Ran, a doctor at a kindergarten in Beijing's Dongcheng district, told the Global Times on Monday. 

Sun said ever since premarital health check-ups were made voluntary, fewer couples are bothering to have them anymore.

"The government cancelled compulsory check-ups to protect citizens' privacy, and some said it violated the freedom of marriage, but many young couples think it is unnecessary or they simply forget about it," said Sun.

Sun said that many couples believe they don't need the check-up if neither of them have obvious diseases, "though recessive hereditary diseases are also likely to have negative a impact on babies," said Sun.

Premarital medical check-ups can effectively prevent birth defects, Ge told thepaper.cn, adding that most hereditary diseases can be detected and prevented beforehand.

The Beijing health authorities stated that only 21,195 couples have had a premarital health check-up since 2014, accounting for just 7.2 percent of couples that have gotten married in the last two years, the Beijing Daily reported.

However, in areas which have set up facilities to provide medical check-ups in the marriage registration office, the check-up rate was 41.97 percent in 2015, an employee of a maternal and child care centre in Fangshan district told the Beijing Youth Daily.

(Source: Global Times)

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