Introduction: Hemoglobinopathies are a group of inherited disorders because of abnormalities in hemoglobin synthesis or structure. Thalassemia and sickle cell anemias are the most prevalent hemoglobinopathies and a national health burden. To reduce this burden, detecting them in the carrier stage is crucial. The health of pregnant women determines the future of the progeny. Hence identifying these disorders during the antenatal period is necessary to take the appropriate measures. Complete blood count (CBC) and peripheral smear are routinely done investigations during antenatal check up. Red blood cell (RBC) indices like mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) can be used for initial screening, followed by electrophoresis for detecting these hemoglobinopathies.
Aim: To determine the prevalence of hemoglobinopathies during antenatal period using red blood cell indices for screening.
Materials and methodology: The study included 80 pregnant women whose CBC revealed MCV ≤ 80 fL, MCH ≤ 27 pg and microcytic hypochromic picture on peripheral smear. Hemoglobin electrophoresis was done to detect hemoglobinopathies.
Results: Elevated HbA2 fraction (> 3.5%) was found in 5 (6.25%) women suggestive of β-thalassemia trait. HbA and HbS bands were present in 3 (3.75%) subjects suggestive of sickle cell trait.
Conclusion: Red blood cell (RBC) indices, MCV and MCH, can be used for initial screening of hemoglobinopathies followed by more confirmatory methods (electrophoresis). Detection of these hemoglobin disorders in the carrier stage would thus be possible.
Clinical significance: Simple screening methods can reduce the incidence of the most prevalent hemoglobinopathies (β-thalassemia trait and sickle cell trait/disease) during antenatal care.
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