Saeed Anwar Anuj
Genetic diseases in Bangladesh
Updated: Jan 31
Bangladesh, with a population of over 160 million people, has a high burden of genetic diseases due to its high population density, limited access to health care, and lack of public awareness about genetics. Many genetic disorders are prevalent in the country, including thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, and inherited metabolic disorders.
Epidemiology of genetic diseases in Bangladesh shows that thalassemia is one of the most common genetic blood disorders, affecting around 3% of the population. Sickle cell anemia is also prevalent, with a carrier rate of 10-12% in the population. Hemophilia, a genetic bleeding disorder, is estimated to affect 1 in every 10,000 individuals in Bangladesh. Inherited metabolic disorders, such as phenylketonuria (PKU) and maple syrup urine disease, are also prevalent in the country.
There are several factors that contribute to the high prevalence of genetic diseases in Bangladesh. Some of these include:
 High rate of consanguinity: A significant proportion of marriages in Bangladesh take place between close relatives, increasing the risk of genetic diseases being passed down from one generation to the next.  Poor prenatal care: Inadequate prenatal care and lack of access to prenatal diagnostic tests often result in birth defects and genetic diseases going undiagnosed.  Limited access to genetic services: In many parts of the country, access to genetic services such as counseling and testing is limited, further exacerbating the situation.  Environmental factors: Exposure to environmental toxins such as lead and pesticides have been shown to increase the risk of genetic diseases.  Lack of awareness: A lack of awareness about the causes and preventive measures for genetic diseases remains a major challenge in Bangladesh.
The high prevalence of genetic diseases in Bangladesh highlights the need for concerted efforts to improve access to genetic services, increase awareness about genetic disorders, and prevent the transmission of these diseases from one generation to the next. This can be achieved through the implementation of comprehensive genetic counseling and testing programs and increased investment in public health and medical education. Ultimately, the goal should be to reduce the burden of genetic diseases in Bangladesh and improve the health and quality of life of those affected.
Reference: Hosen, M.J., Anwar, S., Taslem Mourosi, J. et al. Genetic counseling in the context of Bangladesh: current scenario, challenges, and a framework for genetic service implementation. Orphanet J Rare Dis 16, 168 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13023-021-01804-6