UHS sets up high-risk pregnancy clinic to control genetic disorders in babies

SHARJAH, The University Hospital Sharjah, UHS, has set up a high-risk pregnancy unit to help detect and control the growing number of babies born with genetic disorders.

“In the UAE, 2.5 percent or one in every 35 babies suffers from genetic disorders and congenital abnormalities,” said Dr. Ala’adin Ebrashy, UHS Consultant in Fetal Medicine.

Common causes behind it can be attributed to consanguinity, marriage between close relatives or the mother’s exposure to harmful drugs and infections, the consultant said.

Dr. Ebrashy visits UHS every month to do special tests and offer counselling and advice to pregnant women.

“It is very important that every pregnant woman undergoes two ultra-sound scans – one at 13 weeks and the other at 24 weeks,” he said.

These scans are administered by foetal medicine specialists and reveal the real condition of the foetus and the organs.

“Through these scans, you get the true picture of the pregnancy,” the consultant said.

The job of a foetal medicine specialist is also to discuss the condition of pregnancy with the parents-to-be and tell them if it is normal. In case the foetus is abnormal, the specialist will offer counselling after showing them the report.

“Every parent has a right to know their unborn baby’s condition,” the consultant said, who is also Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Cairo.

In a situation where a foetus is suspected to have Down’s Syndrome, each country has its own rules that can control such a pregnancy, Dr. Ebrashy said.

Premarital tests are mandatory but many couples in the UAE have undertaken them later on, just before the wedding, when it is difficult to make a decision regarding the marriage. The screenings estimate the chance of the foetus having Down’s Syndrome while a diagnostic test provides a definitive diagnosis with 100 percent accuracy.

A trained foetal medicine specialist helps improve the awareness of expectant mothers about the importance of antenatal care and foetal screening.

Source: Emirates News Agency