Estimating the burden of α-thalassaemia in Thailand using a comprehensive prevalence database for Southeast Asia.
Hockham C., Ekwattanakit S., Bhatt S., Penman BS., Gupta S., Viprakasit V., Piel FB.
Severe forms of α-thalassaemia, haemoglobin H disease and haemoglobin Bart's hydrops fetalis, are an important public health concern in Southeast Asia. Yet information on the prevalence, genetic diversity and health burden of α-thalassaemia in the region remains limited. We compiled a geodatabase of α-thalassaemia prevalence and genetic diversity surveys and, using geostatistical modelling methods, generated the first continuous maps of α-thalassaemia mutations in Thailand and sub-national estimates of the number of newborns with severe forms in 2020. We also summarised the current evidence-base for α-thalassaemia prevalence and diversity for the region. We estimate that 3595 (95% credible interval 1,717-6,199) newborns will be born with severe α-thalassaemia in Thailand in 2020, which is considerably higher than previous estimates. Accurate, fine-scale epidemiological data are necessary to guide sustainable national and regional health policies for α-thalassaemia management. Our maps and newborn estimates are an important first step towards this aim. Editorial note: This article has been through an editorial process in which the authors decide how to respond to the issues raised during peer review. The Reviewing Editor's assessment is that all the issues have been addressed (see decision letter).