News FocusGenetic Disease

China Heads Off Deadly Blood Disorder

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Science  10 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6133, pp. 677-678
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6133.677

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Worldwide, an estimated 63,000 children a year are born with ß-thalassemia, most of them in Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean. The exact number of cases in China is not known, but it is clear that the disease strains health resources. To ease the disease burden, the Chinese government has embarked on a comprehensive prevention program featuring population screening, prenatal diagnosis, and genetic research funding. The goal is to do as well as a program in Cyprus that reduced ß-thalassemia incidence from 1 per 158 births in the 1970s to close to zero today. But combating the disease could prove challenging.