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Number of pre-marital check-ups drops, birth defects on rise
2005-02-07 02:19:55 XinhuaEnglish

BEIJING, Feb. 7(Xinhuanet)-- The number of newly weds who had pre-marital health check dropped drastically in the Chinese capital last year, against 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 check 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, Beijing's health authorities have called for wider publicity of information about pre-marital check-ups, said Ding Hui, vice president of Beijing's Obstetric Gynecological Hospital, Monday.

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

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

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

China initiated a year-long nationwide publicity campaign last month to spread information about pre-marital check-ups and the rising number of birth defects.

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