For 14 years, Iranian scientists have worked to develop a national thalassemia prevention program. Although historically abortion was considered unacceptable in Iran, intensive consultations led to the clerical approval of induced abortion in cases with beta-thalassemia major in 1997, and a nationwide prevention program with screening, counseling and prenatal diagnosis (PND) networks has been developed. This paper reports the experience from one of the two national PND reference laboratories. As one of the oldest reference laboratories, we performed a total of 906 PND in 360 couples at risk for thalassemia from 1990 to 2003. Direct and indirect mutation detection methods were applied for all cases. In total, 22 mutations were tested routinely, and an additional 30 rare mutations were identified. 208 fetuses were found to be normal, 215 fetuses had beta-thalassemia major, and 435 fetuses were carriers of the trait. In 40 cases, we only defined one allele. In 8 cases, we were unable to provide any diagnosis, corresponding to 0.9%. Our data support the functionality of the Iranian beta-thalassemia prevention program. The success of this system in Iran, a multiethnic and Islamic-based country, would mean that it might be applied as an adaptive system for neighboring and other Islamic countries.
Community Genetics 02/2006; 9(2):93-7. DOI:10.1159/000091486 · 1.54 Impact Factor