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Experts harp on ‘Genetic Testing’ to end sickle cell births in Nigeria

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Gift Wada

Experts in the medical Field has revealed that a new technology known as genetic testing will prevent the birth of children with sickle cell anaemia and other genetic related diseases in Nigeria irrespective of the genotype of both parents.

The Chief Executive Officer of NISA Premiere Hospital and a fertility gynaecologist, Ibrahim Wada explained that Genetic Testing will allow even parents with sickle cell traits give birth to normal children and also remove genotype obstacles for couples considering marriage.

Speaking at a workshop at the weekend in Abuja, Wada, while lamenting that sickle cell disorders has a high prevalence in Nigeria with one out of 30 Nigerians carrying the gene, and over 300,000 sickle cell affected children born every year stressed that gene testing awareness could not be more apt.

He explained that Genetic testing involves the process of checking the embryos for genetic disorders such as sickle cell before it is implanted in their wombs, and mothers with affected embryos are left with option of abortion

He said, “The idea of testing embryos before planting in the womb of their mothers became essential because we are looking at how to prevent sickle cell anaemia. It is the process of checking the embryo before implanting it in the womb of the mother.

“For Women who has the sickle cell gene, maybe AS and whose whose husband are also AS and are carrying the sickle cell trait and have no way of avoiding Sickle cell anaemia, this option when applied will allow them to have children that are normal and they don’t have to suffer the idea of having sickle cell babies.”

Wada further explained that he process is in two stages, the selecting stage before pregnancy, and the option of selecting during pregnancy.

Wada said, “The technology is available either way, the selecting stage before pregnancy is the preventive stage, it involves selecting it at the seed level even before it becomes a human being and thats the highest level of technology , but the stage during pregnancy, mother’s are often faced with the option abortion if the child is affected with. Sickle cell.”

He further informed that the technology will not only prevent sickle cell, but will help ascertain the characteristics of an embryo before it is implanted in the womb to enable parents know what their offspring will look like and to avoid other forms of abnormalities.

“This option look at all sort of characteristics of the embryo before it goes to the womb by knowing what is the genotype, the chromosome component, this technology allows a broader protection.” He said.

He added, “We are trying to remove the obstacleof two AS not getting married, funny enough love is blind, we fall in love but we don’t fall in love with genotype or chromosome. We want people to follow their heart in marriage and not whether they are sickle celled or not.

“Its not an open declaration to the whole world, marrying without genotype, I believe the time would come when this technology would be widely available so that people can now live their normal lives in love with people they love excluding genotype problem.”

Also speaking, the Acting Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) Alex Akpa, urged the federal government to invest in the technology and make it more affordable to enable nigerians have greater access and impact.

Akpa, who was represented by Adekunle Rowaye, an officer with the agency, said the need for genetic testing is stronger than it can ever been with pollution from industrialization, climate change which has caused changes in terms of genetic mutation.

He stressed, “Early detection of genetic mutation in an embryo before implantation in the uterus n the uterus will increase the chances if conceiving healthy children. It can also provide information of cancer risks and sucesseptibility of several other diseases”.

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