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Beijing to push premarital checkups

By SHAN JUAN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-20 06:29

Beijing wants to increase the rate of premarital medical checkups to at least 50 percent by 2020 to prevent birth defects and disabilities, according to a new municipal disability prevention action plan.

The document was released by the Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning on Friday.

Last year, less than 11 percent of newlyweds in Beijing had premarital checkups, statistics from the commission showed.

With the advent of the universal second-child policy, "the capital is facing an increasing risk of congenital disability and inherited diseases," said Ou Ling, deputy director of the federation.

Last year, Beijing had roughly 280,000 newborns, up 70,000 over 2015.

According to Xi Shuyan, a division head of the capital health authority, the number of couples seeking premarital checkups has plummeted since late 2003, when the checkup was made voluntary.

Birth defects such as cleft palate, congenital heart disease and congenital mental retardation have been on the rise among the capital's newborns ever since, previous reports said.

According to Xi, to encourage people to receive checkups before marriage, Beijing has made the tests free and more convenient.

In addition, the capital is strengthening the screening among newborns for inherited metabolic disease, which can result in metabolism problems, the document said.

By 2020, the screening rate for the condition is expected to exceed 98 percent among newborns in the capital, it said.

Moreover, hearing tests will be expanded to cover 90 percent of children up to 6 years old, and 85 percent of babies up to 1 year old will undergo neuropsychological development testing, it said.

To ensure targeted care, at least 90 percent of the disabled children aged 6 and younger in the city should be covered by support networks by 2020, it said.

Beijing now has nearly one million disabled people, official tallies showed.

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