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‘Kuwait tops list of Mideast nations in genetic diseases’ – ‘Intra-family marriages prime cause’

KUWAIT CITY, May 23: Head of Human Genetic Unit in the Department of Pathology at the Faculty of Medicine in Kuwait University Dr Rabiah Al-Tamimi said Kuwait tops the list of countries with high rate of genetic diseases in the Middle East, adding that an average of over 65 out of every 1,000 diagnosed newborn babies in Kuwait suffer from genetic diseases, reports Al-Anba daily.

Al-Tamimi revealed this recently in a press statement as part of the campaign organized by the Public Authority for Handicapped Affairs (PAHA). She said the rate of such diseases in Kuwait is very high compared to America, Europe and Australia. She cited the rate of food digestion disorder, saying 21 out of every 1,000 diagnosed infants are suffering from the disease.

She attributed the problem to marriage among relatives; indicating that food digestion disorder and low enzymes, which are relatively high in Kuwait compared to Europe and America, are rare genetic diseases. She said intra-family marriages could transfer the diseases from one generation to another within the affected families.

She added that eight out of 1,000 diagnosed infants were found to be suffering from Downs Syndrome. She stated Kuwait has the highest rate of Bardet-Biedl Syndrome – a ciliopathic human genetic disorder that produces many effects and affects many body systems characterized principally by obesity, retinitis pigmentosa, polydactyly, hypogonadism and renal failure in some cases – in the world with an average of 1 out of every 13,500 diagnosed infants.

She recommended early detection and prompt treatment or early management to reduce the rate of genetic disorders. She explained the objective of PAHA’s awareness campaign is to relieve infants and their families of the burdens associated with genetic diseases. S

he confirmed a research will soon start in Kuwait to diagnose fetuses before birth in a bid to reduce the rate of genetic problems by preparing medical solutions for the concerned families. She pointed out that the pre-pregnancy test for couples is the best method to detect genetic problems.

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