‘Screen unborn children for heart complications’

A resident of Masaki, Evaclotida Kapinga receiving a fetal echo

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PREGNANT women have been encouraged to undergo fetal echocardiography test for them to give birth to children who are free from heart defects.

A fetal echocardiography is specialised ultrasound that provides a detailed view of a baby’s heart used to examine the structure and function of the heart before the child is born.

Addressing Journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, A Pediatric Cardiologist at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), Dr Naiz Majani, said almost one in one hundred babies are born with a heart problem, therefore the test helps in diagnosing heart problems early even before a baby is born.

“Majority of the children born with heart problems have had their cases determined at a delayed stage, thereby leading to other complications and at times death,” said Dr Majani. She observed that out of 1 million children who were born last year 12,000 babies were diagnosed with heart problems and only 750 babies had been attended to by the hospital.

“A small per cent of about 10 to 20 per cent are the ones who can reach us meaning that the problem is big and there are others out there whose cases have not been determined or have passed away without knowing their problems,” she noted.

Dr Majani said the test can be performed between 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy and that some developed countries have begun treatment to the unborn babies. “By end of last year, the institute had begun to perform the test of which out of 25 pregnant women five unborn children were diagnosed with heart problems,” observed the Doctor.

She, however, pointed out that the tests once performed on the unborn babies, the results are by 90 per cent authentic and the remaining 10 per cent cannot establish a problem.

JKCI Executive Director, Prof Mohamed Janabi noted that the test is performed like a normal ultrasound and does not bare any effects on unborn children.

“This is a remarkable achievement in our country, for we are now in a better stage to determine problems before they are at a critical stage,” noted Prof Janabi. He said that this procedure gives room for further advice on the type of birth that could be carried out, noting that heart problems are treatable.

“Children are the next generation. If we do not prepare for their well-being now they will perish,” he said. A resident of Masaki, Evaclotida Kapinga, who was going though the test, urged other pregnant women to go through it.

“This test does not have any effects on the child but it helps in determining the condition of your child so that you can get the required assistance if any problems arise,” remarked Kapinga.

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