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NESTROFT—A Cost-Effective Mass Screening Tool for the Detection of β-Thalassemia Carrier Status in Anemic Pregnant Women: A Step Toward Reducing the National Disease Burden
Introduction β-Thalassemias are inherited hemoglobinopathies commonly encountered in practice. With chances of a promising cure being rare, the prevention of births with this disorder should assume priority, especially in low-resource countries. This can be achieved by the implementation of a mass screening program that is reliable and, at the same time, cost-effective.
Objectives This study focuses on the utility of Naked Eye Single Tube Red Cell Osmotic Fragility Test (NESTROFT) as a mass screening tool to detect thalassemia carriers. Hematological parameters that may predict carrier status were also evaluated.
Materials and Methods Hemoglobin estimation was performed on all consented pregnant women. If the patient was found to have hemoglobin < 11 g/dL, the blood sample was subjected to other routine hematological tests along with peripheral smear examination. NESTROFT was performed using 0.36% saline solution. Confirmation was done using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
Statistical Analysis Data obtained were tabulated using version 21 of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. Means, standard deviations, and percentages were used to describe the sample. Chi-square test and Students’ t test were used to identify differences between the groups.
Results Of 441 pregnant women enrolled, 206 were found to be anemic. Nineteen (9.2%) of the anemic pregnant women were detected to be carriers of hemoglobinopathies. Among the hematological parameters, mean red blood cell count and reticulocyte count were higher, while mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration was lower in carriers. Also, carriers were more likely to present with microcytic hypochromic anemia. NESTROFT showed a sensitivity of 84.21%, specificity of 96.25%, a positive predictive value of 69.56%, and a negative predictive value of 98.36%. A false-positive result was seen in 3.74% of the tests, while a false negative result was seen in 15.78% of the tests.
Conclusions NESTROFT (0.36%) can be used as a simple and cost-effective mass screening tool for the detection of carrier status. This should be followed by confirmation using HPLC or hemoglobin electrophoresis.
Article published online:
09 July 2021
© 2021. The Indian Association of Laboratory Physicians. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial-License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
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