Dehradun, September 17
To reduce the incidence of birth defects, the Health Department will soon come up with a birth defects registry (BDR).
After an intense focus on anti-natal care aimed at reducing child and maternal mortality rate, the state has started focusing on reducing birth defects through the action on birth defects programme of the National Rural Health Mission.
Dr Sujata Sinha, project head, birth defect, said: “A framework of birth defects, both genetic and non-genetic, will be prepared with focus on primary prevention, care and control, which will eventually lead to the preparation of the BDR.”
There are many causes for birth defects involving a wide range of factors, some due to inherent blood disorders, congenital abnormalities and metabolic disorders. With the main focus on thalassemia, the programme aims at tracking G6PD (glucose-6 phosphate dehyrdogenase deficiency), orofacial cleft congenital malformation, congenital heart defect, neural tube defect and down syndrome.
As part of primary preventive care, the focus will be on adolescent girls and ensuring they take iron tablets. “Often an expectant mother is given iron tablets, which may not be useful for preventing birth defects. The defects sets in within six to eight weeks of the conception period and iron plays a major role in the genesis process,” said Dr KC Pant, a senior physician at Doon Hospital.
With the advent of prenatal screening and prenatal care, doctors can detect certain signs of birth defects and some of them can even be treated while the baby is still in the mother’s womb. Some can be treated immediately after the baby is born and there are still some birth defects for which there is no known treatment till date. While Doon Hospital will act as the state centre for the programme, an active screening of newborn babies with possible birth defects will be carried at the District Female Hospital.
The testing for the G6PD deficiency has already started at Doon Hospital by using the filter paper for blood sampling to be followed by a test for congenital hypothyroidism.
A survey for the preparation of the BDR and primary prevention has already started in the Raipur block of Dehradun, where adolescent girls were screened. Soon other blocks comprising Sahaspur, Doiwala and Vikas Nagar would be covered under the survey.

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