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Correction published on 28 November 2014, see Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(12), 12367.

Open AccessReview
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(6), 6136-6146; doi:10.3390/ijerph110606136

Genetic Epidemiology and Preventive Healthcare in Multiethnic Societies: The Hemoglobinopathies

Human and Clinical Genetics Department, Leiden University Medical Center, P.O. Box 9600, Leiden 2333 ZC, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 March 2014 / Revised: 30 May 2014 / Accepted: 3 June 2014 / Published: 11 June 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Epidemiology)
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Healthy carriers of severe Hemoglobinopathies are usually asymptomatic and only efficiently detected through screening campaigns. Based upon epidemiological data, screenings have been offered for decades to populations of endemic Southern Europe for primary prevention of Thalassemia Major, while for many populations of the highly endemic African and Asian countries prevention for Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia Major is mainly unavailable. The massive migrations of the last decades have brought many healthy carriers of these diseases to live and reproduce in non-endemic immigration areas changing the epidemiological pattern of the local recessive diseases and bringing an urgent need for treatment and primary prevention in welfare countries. Nonetheless, no screening for an informed reproductive choice is actively offered by the healthcare systems of most of these welfare countries. As a consequence more children affected with severe Hemoglobinopathies are born today in the immigration countries of Northern Europe than in the endemic Southern European area. Following the Mediterranean example, some countries like the UK and The Netherlands have been offering early pregnancy carrier screening at different levels and/or in specific areas but more accessible measures need to be taken at the national level in all immigration countries. Identification of carriers using simple and inexpensive methods should be included in the Rhesus and infectious diseases screening which is offered early in pregnancy in most developed countries. This would allow identification of couples at risk in time for an informed choice and for prenatal diagnosis if required before the first affected child is born.
Keywords: hemoglobinopathy; thalassemia; sickle cell disease; prevention; ethnicity hemoglobinopathy; thalassemia; sickle cell disease; prevention; ethnicity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Giordano, P.C.; Harteveld, C.L.; Bakker, E. Genetic Epidemiology and Preventive Healthcare in Multiethnic Societies: The Hemoglobinopathies. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 6136-6146.

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