Between 5,500 to 6,000 born with birth defects : Post mortem for mysterious prenatal deaths to be made mandatory | Sunday Observer

Between 5,500 to 6,000 born with birth defects : Post mortem for mysterious prenatal deaths to be made mandatory

Consultant Community Physician and Former President of Prenatal Society of Sri Lanka, Dr. Kapila Jayarathne said carrying out a post mortem for prenatal deaths with unascertained causes will be made mandatory in the future.

Speaking at a media seminar on ‘World Births Defect Day’ recently he said arrangements are being made to make this a mandatory requirement. “We will provide hospitals with necessary facilities before that. Already, 60 out of 85 hospitals in the country have consultants specialized for the task,” he said.

He said conducting postmortems on prenatal deaths are important to identify what causes them. “Most parents are reluctant to consent to a post mortem as they think it will scar the body. Also, they want to perform funeral rites immediately. But, carrying out a post mortem will help diagnose the reasons for the death so that it does not repeat. It is important to the society as a whole,” he said.

On average, 5,500 to 6,000 babies with birth defects are born annually in Sri Lanka which contributes to 18 percent of hospital infant mortality, each year, he said.

“On average, there are 2,700 infant deaths occur annually, where a baby dies before its first birthday. In 2015, there were 1,728 still births recorded where death takes place after the 20th week of pregnancy and 1,555 new neonatal deaths occurs within seven days after birth . The causes for 35 percent of prenatal deaths, with includes both still births and neonatal deaths, remain unascertained,” he said.

Dr. Jayarathne further said that on average 48,000 miscarriages take place, annually, in Sri Lanka, where the fetus dies within 28 weeks of pregnancy and birth defects contribute to a large number of these miscarriages.

“Approximately 400,000 women in the country conceives each year, and roughly about 331,000 women are capable of giving live birth, the rest is referred to as pregnancy wastage,” Dr. Jayarathne said.

Head of Human Genetics Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Prof. Vajira Dissanayake said that causes for birth defects are not solely genetic, although genetic testing can prevent such cases. Adequate nutrition and abstaining from alcohol, drugs and smoking can also prevent such incidents.