City doctors take on Mehta issue, New Bombay Plus, Aug 9, 2008.,New Bombay Plus,August 09, 2008
City doctors’ take on Mehta issue
The Mumbai High Court recently disallowed Niketa Mehta’s plea for aborting her 26-week foetus diagnosed with heart defect. The Abortion Control Laws in force prohibit termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks. But the law was made in 1971 when Ultra-Sound Sonography was in its infancy.
Navi Mumbai pediatric surgeons say that the Mehta case is just a tip of the iceberg.
According to Dr Arbinder K Singal, pediatric surgeon, MGM Group of Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, ultra-sound sonography technology has made rapid advancement in the last decade. It enables the couple to know if the foetus has serious deformities. “Hence, it is only to be expected that more and more such couples beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy would be seeking permission for such abortions,” said Dr Arbinder K Singal.
Dr Singal comes across such cases in many pregnant women. “Only a couple of days back, one such worried 22-weeks pregnant mother from Nerul consulted us. Only one kidney of the foetus was functioning. We also come across babies with both kidneys not functioning. We get to know it through sonography scan. There are several such life threatening defects in the babies,” informed Dr Singal.
“Hence under the changed scenario, in such cases, 25-26 weeks pregnant mothers should now be given a choice to abort,” opined Dr Singal. Otherwise they have to regret much later. “As of now they have no choice. Asking for such abortion takes a lot of courage. It is a heart breaking choice. Once in a while only, we get such parents like the Mehtas, who are highlighting the issue,” pointed out Dr Singal.
It is a difficult problem. “Sonography is not 100 percent diagnostic. It is 99 percent only. Thus there is a grey area of 1 percent. That is why in different sonographies, one comes across anomalies like Down’s Syndrome etc. After all, the baby is not in front of you,” explained pediatric surgeon Dr Manish Dubey.
“It is not that only heart defects, which are life threatening. It is equally valid for other organs of the body too like kidneys, lever etc, In fact the heart has much less incidence of problems than kidneys. Reportedly kidney development is more complex and hence prone to more deformations. The most common problem is that of babies being diagnosed with swelling of the kidney. It is lethal if swelling is on both sides. 1 percent of all babies have swelling in their kidney,” said pediatric nephrologist Dr Pankaj Deshpande.
Of late urinary track problems incidence is more common in newly born male babies.
“The urinary passage is incomplete. The urinary outlet is underneath in many male babies. Hence for several such surgeries we undertake paediatric laproscopic surgery,” further informed Dr Singal.
Most of the couples now-a-days do to lot of planned child birth. Hence when a serious deformity is detected in Sonography they are devastated. If the baby is born with serious abnormalities, they may be totally crippled and dependent. Parents are not going to be there forever.
“Then who is going to care for them, for the rest of their life? Hence the bold step taken by the Mehta couple to take up the issue head-on is really commendable and progressive,” said Dr Singal in conclusion.
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