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China adopts fresh rule for birth defects checks
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China has released a regulation to facilitate the screening of birth defects across the country, according to the Ministry of Health.

The rule, issued on Thursday, will come into effect on June 1.

The defects to be checked include congenital hypothyroidism, which impedes infants' growth and brain development, and phenylke-tonuria (PKU), which causes mental disabilities and hearing disorders, among others.

Infants after birth will go through procedures like taking blood samples and listening test.

The screening program will help reduce the incidence of debilitating conditions, the China Daily reported Friday.

A Chinese baby with some form of physical defect is born every 30 seconds, according to the National Population and Family planning Commission.

The latest statistics show China has about 20 million people with hearing disabilities alone. Among them, more than 800,000 are children below the age of six. The number is increasing at a rate of 20,000 to 30,000 kids per year.

China started to screen newborns for ailments like congenital hypothyroidism and phenylke-tonuria (PKU) back in 1981, but the effort has only covered about 3 percent of the total of infants.

(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2009)

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