2,500 newborns die a year for hormone deficiency
An estimated 2,500 newborn children having hormone deficiency at birth become either physically or mentally retarded every year in the country, experts told a seminar yesterday asking the government to continue newborn screening programme at hospitals to detect congenital hyperthyroidism.
"We have tested blood samples of nearly 200,000 neonates at 14 centres across Bangladesh in last five years and one in every 2,300 were found positive," Prof Faridul Alam, project director of screening of congenital hyperthyroidism in newborn babies, said after the seminar held at a city hotel.
Prof Farid, also attached to Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Ultrasound, said the hormone screening of newborn babies was provided free of cost and each month more than 5,000 children were tested. The service was provided from the government funds, he added.
Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) is a condition of thyroid hormone deficiency present at birth. Approximately one in every 4,000 newborns has a severe deficiency of thyroid function, while even more have mild or partial degrees.
If untreated for several months after birth, severe congenital hypothyroidism can lead to growth failure and permanent mental retardation. Treatment consists of a daily dose of thyroid hormone (thyroxine) by mouth.
Because the treatment is simple, effective, and inexpensive, nearly allof the developed world practices newborn screening to detect and treat congenital hypothyroidism in the first weeks of life.
State Minister for Science and ICT Architect Yeafesh Osman, who attended the seminar as the chief guest, said the present government paved the way for achieving millennium development goals no. 4 and 5 on child and mother survival. The reduction of deaths of the newborn is crucial to cut child mortality in Bangladesh.
"We are progressing in all indicators -- social and economic -- and Bangladesh would turn into a middle-income country by next 10 years," he hoped.