- Haemoglobinopathy screening should be performed in women with microcytic indices, women from high risk ethnic populations and those with unexplained anaemia.
- Early testing of women and their partners expedites appropriate management prior to and during pregnancy.
- Haemoglobinopathy screening is a multistep process beginning with a full blood count, ferritin assay, screening tests for haemoglobinopathies (ie, haemoglobin electrophoresis, high performance liquid chromatography, capillary electrophoresis) and assessment of clinical risk.
- Iron deficiency may obscure the diagnosis of β-thalassaemia trait. If possible, haemoglobinopathy testing should be performed when the woman is iron-replete.
- Genetic testing can be offered on the basis of the combined risk of the couple; but turnaround times are lengthy at present, hence the emphasis on early pregnancy or pre-conception screening.
- Screening processes vary between states and local health districts; a uniform approach to screening and genetic testing with a national registry to record results would improve management of this growing problem.
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.