In Taiwan, Thalassemia is a common autosomal recessive genetic disease, where the carrier rate approximates to 6%. If both parents carry the same type of gene, then there is a 25% chance that the child will have severe Thalassemia, which will require lifelong blood transfusion or bone marrow transplantation to sustain life, resulting into physical, mental, economic and social burden to the patient and family.
To those prospective parents with high risk for thalassemia, the government provides subsidy for their prenatal genetic testing!
For the prevention of severe Thalassemia and to reduce its economic burden, the government partly subsidizes the health checkup fee to those whose genetic sample underwent testing at a Genetic Disease Testing Institution.
1、Prospective parents with MCV≦80 fl, revealed through routine blood examination, can be subsidized a maximum amount of 2000 NTD per parent (diagnosed as carriers) for Thalassemia testing.
2、For parents diagnosed as same type thalassemia gene carriers, the chances of bearing a child with severe thalassemia is 25%, therefore, the government subsidizes a maximum amount of 5,000 NTD for prenatal genetic testing; furthermore, an additional subsidy of 3,500 NTD is provided to low income families or families residing in the 80 districts that lack genetic healthcare medical resources. Thus, raising the maximum amount of subsidy to 8,500 NTD.
3、If the fetus is diagnosed with abnormal thalassemia gene, the medical institution will provide genetic counselling services. As for the fetus diagnosed with severe thalassemia, following decision for abortion will be decided by the family.
Genetic information, queries and consultation services, protecting your child’s health
In the Newly-wed Health Booklet and Maternal Health Booklet, Health Promotion Administration provides information on prenatal care and genetic counselling services to newly-wed couples and prospective parents for a healthy pregnancy to birth experience. If there are more genetic related questions, you can approach the 14 genetic counselling centers approved by Health Promotion Administration, visit Health Promotion Administration’s genetic disease counselling service website (https://gene.hpa.gov.tw/), call national free maternal counselling hotline (0800-270-270) or pregnancy care website (http://mammy.hpa.gov.tw). These sources provides insight on maternity knowledge, reproductive health, genetic services and other related information, for early detection of your child’s health status and a following next generation healthy birth.