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China: cost of tests blamed for congenital disease increase

This article was originally published in Clinica

Executive Summary

The rate of children born with congenital defects is increasing in China, according to a report by the government's National Working Committee on Children and Women. The number of newborns affected has risen to 14 per 1,000 in 2005, from 11 per 1,000 in 2002. The problem has affected almost 30 million households, according to China's official news agency Xinhua. The increase is being blamed on the cost of pre-marital medical check-up tests, which has resulted in a declining number of people getting their health checked - from 68% in 2002 to 3% in 2005. Some local governments are reportedly providing free pre-marital check-ups in order to address the problem. The most common congenital defects in China range from cleft palate to neural tube defect and heart disease.

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