OPINIONS Premarital checkups can help reduce birth defects

OPINIONS

Premarital checkups can help reduce birth defects

By Wang Yiqing | China Daily

08:21, May 22, 2020

A newborn baby. [Photo/IC]

Twenty-two cities in China provide a free premarital checkup service for would-be couples. The procedure requires couples wanting to marry to undergo tests to know beforehand any of the underlying problems that can undermine a marriage, ensure childbearing ability, guarantee maternal and baby health after childbirth and prevent birth defects. Such tests will help ensure happy marriages and improve the quality of the population.

The Maternal and Infant Health Care Law introduced in June 1,1995, made a premarital checkup certificate compulsory for those wanting to marry. However, to protect people's legal rights, the Marriage Registration Ordinance introduced on Aug 8, 2003, removed the premarital checkup certificate as a necessary document for registering marriages, making the tests optional for couples.

But making the tests optional led to a sharp decline in the premarital checkup rate, as many couples don't realize the significance of such checkups; some might even want to conceal some health details.

Reports said that by 2015 the premarital checkup rate had dipped to below 10 percent in major cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou; it had been more than 90 percent before the compulsory checkups were canceled in 2003.

Expectedly, the rates of birth defects and sexually transmitted diseases have gone up in recent years.

That's why there is a need to promote free premarital checkups using taxpayers' money.

As more provinces and regions provide free premarital checkups for new couples, it will help reduce birth defects and improve population quality.

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