Thalassaemia is a common disorder in Malaysia. It is estimated that 4.5% of the population are carriers for beta- or alpha- thalassaemias. We set out to screen Form 4 students aged between 15 and 16 years old in a national school, for thalassaemia in March 2008. Written consent was obtained from 310 students. The carrier rate for the common thalassaemia syndromes was 6.8% (2.9% for beta-thalassaemia, 2.6% for HbE and 1.3% for two-gene deletion for alpha-thalassaemia). Carriers for beta-thalassaemia and two-gene deletion for alpha-thalassaemia were more common in the Chinese (4.3% and 1.4% respectively) while heterozygous HbE was more common in the Malays (3.8%). The laboratory cost of screening one student was RM 45 and the total number of man-hours spent in this screening activity was 600. This screening exercise showed that thalassaemia carriers are common among the Chinese and Malays and it is feasible to carry out a screening programme for secondary school students.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.