Medical Practice

Screening for Abnormal Haemoglobins: A Pilot Study

Br Med J 1973; 4 doi: (Published 03 November 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;4:284
  1. J. Stuart,
  2. F. C. M. Schwartz,
  3. A. J. Little,
  4. D. N. Raine


    A pilot study has been made of the implication of screening for abnormal haemoglobins in immigrant schoolchildren. An abnormality was detected by capillary blood haemoglobin electrophoresis in 8·4% of 6,835 children and a haemoglobinopathy outpatient clinic had to be established to deal with the heavy work load which resulted. The clinic was also used to determine the value of investigating the remaining members of the family once an abnormality had been detected in one child.

    Healthy siblings with normal haemoglobin electrophoretic patterns and normal iron and folate levels were studied to determine a normal range for haemoglobin in relation to age for adequately nourished immigrant children. The lower limit of the normal range was close to the mean value minus 1½ S.D.; by using this definition 10·3% of 280 children were subsequently found to be anaemic.

    Population screening of this type is desirable, but further pilot studies of patient education, genetic counselling, organization of specimen collection, data processing, and follow-up health care facilities are required before screening is extended more widely in the United Kingdom.