Chinese authorities have confirmed the launch of a monitoring project designed to create a genetic birth defect list of at least 500,000 samples, reports the Beijing News.
Officially launched on April 20, 2018, the state-funded programme involves 33 medical institutions and organizations from 17 cities and provinces across China.
The nationwide study will track and analyze data from half-a-million pregnant Chinese women to create a biological sample base to study birth defects. Authorities say the system will eventually be used to help target and prevent birth defects and improve the health of newborns.
Birth defects, congenital diseases, can result in physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Congenital disease is one of the leading causes of infant mortality.
In China, nearly 900,000 babies are born with various birth defects each year, a relatively high figure by global standards.
The project is being considered a way to bolster the two-child policy, which came into effect in 2016, abandoning its decades-long one-child policy which was first introduced in the late 1970s to rein in the surging population.
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