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Couples skipping health checks
Updated: 2005-02-08 09:03

The number of newly-weds who underwent pre-marital health checks dropped drastically in Beijing last year, amid a growing incidence of infectious diseases and birth defects, according to the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.

Only 5.03 percent of the 198,634 individuals applying for marriage went through health checks last year; of those who had the check, 13.62 percent were found to suffer from infectious diseases or infertility, the bureau said.

Last year, the incidence of birth defects reached 13.49 per thousand in Beijing, higher than the normal ratio of 10 per thousand, according to figures from the Beijing Municipal Women and Infants Health Care Center.

Although the figures could not prove that lower ratio of pre-marital check-ups is a direct cause of higher incidence of birth defects, health authorities in the capital have called for wider publicity of information about pre-marital check-ups, Ding Hui, vice president of Beijing's Obstetric Gynecological Hospital, said yesterday.

Concerned institutions have been asked to provide free pre-marital check-ups to reduce financial burdens on needy groups, an official with the health bureau said.

China adopted the new Regulation on Marriage Registration on October 1, 2003. Under the new regulation, people registered with the civil affairs department for marriage can decide themselves whether to have a physical examination before they get married.

In the past, pre-marital health check was a prerequisite for obtaining marriage permits.

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