Research Article: Newborn Screening Services in Bahrain between 1985 and 2010

Date Published: April 8, 2012

Publisher: Hindawi Publishing Corporation

Author(s): Shaikha Al Arrayed, Amani Al Hajeri.


Introduction. The incidence of genetic blood disease in Bahrain has declined gradually since 1984 when the Ministry of Health
(MOH) instituted a prevention campaign. The national NBS program for hemoglobinopathies was started in May 2007, financed by the national budget. Setting. Genetics department, Salmaniya Medical Complex, MOH, Bahrain. Methodology.
The genetics, nursing, pathology, and pediatric departments were involved in the study. This service was offered to all infants.
Cord blood samples were collected at birth and were then sent to the laboratory. Results.
During 3.5 years after the program was implemented, we screened 38,940 newborns (NBs), of which 17,375 were screened in 2008,
10,248 in 2009, and 11,317 in 2010. The number of affected NBs was 128 in both 2007 and 2008, 58 in 2009, and 47 in 2010, as the average
number of affected NBs in 2010 was 4 per month.
The incidence of affected NBs was found to be 0.7% in 2008, 0.6% in 2009, and 0.4% in 2010. Conclusion.
NBS is an essential step for the early diagnosis and treatment of affected NBs, future recurrence of the disease in the same family. In Bahrain,
the number of affected NBs has declined by 75% during the last 20.

Partial Text

Bahrain comprises an archipelago of 36 islands, with an area of 717.5 km2, located in the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Arabia is situated to the west and Qatar to the east. The estimated population of Bahrain in 2010 was 1,039,297. The 2001 census data showed that the population of Bahrain was 646,551 in 2007, of which Bahraini nationals constituted 50.7% and non-Bahrainis constituted 49.3%. Most Bahraini Arabs are originally from the Arabian Peninsula. The crude birth rate was estimated to be 15.4/1000 individuals, whilst the infant mortality rate was 83/1000 live births in 2007 [3].

The screening is offered to all infants who are delivered in the MOH maternity units. An explanatory leaflet detailing the purpose, process, and outcomes of the screening service was provided to the parent(s) by midwives before screening. The decision to opt out of testing was documented.

The cord blood of the infants was collected at birth and posted to the central laboratory for testing.

The number of affected newborns per month in 2010 is shown in Table 1, while the number and percentage of affected newborns per year during 2007–2010 are shown in Table 2.

The MOH in Bahrain recognized that NBS is an essential step toward the early diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases among newborns, for avoiding further complications and for advising parents so as to prevent future recurrence of these diseases in the same family.

This study shows that the incidence of SCD was <0.5% in 2010 among the study group, which is lower than that reported in previous studies conducted in Bahrain. This indicated a gradual decline in disease frequency, which may be due to the high awareness among the people of Bahrain that was a result of the educational and awareness campaign started approximately 20 years ago. With the continuation of education and awareness campaigns, carrier screening, and premarital services, we expect the number of affected newborns to reduce tremendously over the next few years.   Source: