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Chinese Baby Girl’s Birth Defect Raises Discussion on Prenatal Screening Accuracy

The birth of an infant with physical abnormalities, despite recurrent prenatal screenings, has sparked discussions on Chinese social media. A running investigation will reveal whether the hospital can be held accountable.

Manya Koetse

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The birth of an infant with physical abnormalities, despite recurrent prenatal screenings, has sparked discussions on Chinese social media. A running investigation will reveal whether the hospital can be held accountable.

A Chinese baby girl has made the news after she was born with birth defects, despite 8 prenatal screenings allegedly showing no health problems in the unborn infant.

On August 26, the 26-year-old Youping Lin from Shenzhen gave birth to a baby girl. Although the woman told Chinese media the labor went well, she was shocked to learn her newborn had severe psychical abnormalities, with the right side of the face missing the nostril and ear. The baby’s right eye is also closed, Lin said.

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The baby girl, born in Shenzhen on August 26.

According to The Paper and Legal Evening News (November 8), the girl’s birth defects nearly made her mother “collapse” and has made her clinically depressed.

 

“In a total of 8 prenatal screenings and 5 ultrasounds, doctors repeatedly told Lin that the unborn baby was perfectly normal.”

 

In a total of 8 prenatal screenings and 5 ultrasounds, doctors told Lin that the unborn baby was perfectly normal.

A running investigation by a third party institution [not further defined in Chinese media reports] will reveal if the hospital can be held accountable for the baby’s birth defects.

Youping Lin got pregnant in late 2015 and went for her first prenatal testing in February of 2016 at the Futian Renmin Hospital in Shenzhen. The ultrasounds included one 3D ultrasound. At the time, the view on the right side of the unborn baby’s face was blocked by its own hand. Nevertheless, doctors told the mother the unborn baby was completely normal.

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According to The Paper, hospital representatives have stated that they have used all possible prenatal screenings to detect abnormalities. They also said that although it is extremely rare for birth defects such as these to go unnoticed in prenatal screenings, they cannot be completely ruled out.

A similar news story also came out earlier this year, when a woman gave birth to a baby that was missing one arm. The distressed mother told reporters that repeated ultrasounds also did not spot the fact that her unborn baby had a birth defect.

 

“In China, approximately 900,000 infants are born with a birth defect or disability every year.”

 

Worldwide, 6% of annual live births are affected by birth defects. China has a relatively high occurrence; approximately 900,000 infants are born with a birth defect or disability every year, which is around 5.6% of total newborns (Liu et al 2016, 3615). Pregnancy affected by serious anomalies is allowed to be terminated at any time of the pregnancy in the People’s Republic of China (Deng et al 2015, 312).

On the Sina Weibo social media platform, the case has led to a discussion on who is responsible for the child’s physical abnormalities.

Many commenters think that the hospital is responsible: “The fact that the doctor said the unborn child was normal, even while the right side of the face was blocked by its hand, shows that they had a low sense of responsibility; that was just wishful thinking,” one netizen comments.

“After 8 prenatal screenings, this did not come out?!”, another Weibo user comments.

As reported by The Paper, hospital representatives have admitted that doctors would normally do a second 3D ultrasound if the fetus is not fully visible in the first one, but that this was not done in the case of Youping Lin.

“Poor baby girl! Is there no way to do plastic surgery? The doctors should help,” one commenter says.

“This is up for the law to decide. Who ever is responsible should take responsibility,” another Weibo user comments.

“But how can this be compensated for?” another netizen wonders: “In the end, it is the child and its family that will suffer. What kind of compensation will lessen their suffering?” Others also agree, writing: “What does it matter who is responsible? What matters is what will happen to this girl.”

 

“Some families consider their disabled child a shameful secret to be hidden.”

 

Giving birth to a child with severe physical abnormalities and/or disability has a huge impact on Chinese parents and families. People with disabilities are often stigmatized in China. A large number of disabled young children have no access to education because schools refuse to accept them.

Due to the ubiquitous stigmatization and discrimination, some families even consider their disabled child a “shameful secret to be hidden” (Coonan 2016).

Another major burden to Chinese households living with a child with a birth defect or disability is that it greatly affects their living standard. Without access to public welfare, medical treatments can be very costly or even unaffordable to some families. In Disability Policy in China (2016), the director of a large State Child Welfare institution is quoted telling about a 4-year-old girl that was abandoned at the Tianjin Railway station; the institution’s staff found that the girl had already had two major surgeries and that she needed just one more operation in order to survive (Mendes & Srighantan 2009, 1).

With such heavy burdens, many expecting parents will choose to terminate pregnancies when the unborn baby is diagnosed with a birth defect. In the case of Down Syndrome, around 95% of Chinese women terminate their pregnancy after learning the syndrome is detected in the fetus.

China’s Ministry of Health has promoted nationwide prenatal screenings for birth defects since 2003 (Deng et al 2015, 312). As pointed out in recent Chinese research, there has since been a sharp increase in the percentage of prenatal diagnosis and consequential birth termination (ibid., 315).

 

“Poor baby, I hope the parents will not ignore her and take care of her.”

 

Many Chinese netizens reflect on this news story and think about their own family. Discussions about the ethical issue of possible abortion for fetal abnormality, that is more prevalent in western countries, seem practically absent on Chinese social media. One of the main issues under discussion is the cost of prenatal screenings and their trustworthiness – this story concerned many mothers-to-be: “As an expectant mother, this news really worries me,” one woman replies.

Another person writes: “I am so very happy my baby is healthy. I also feel bad for this family that will be so burdened from now on, poor girl.”

“Poor baby, I hope the parents will not ignore her and take care of her,” one commenter says. Other Weibo users are also concerned about the girl’s future: “What will her life look like? She will endure much pain, just as her parents.”

– By Manya Koetse
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References

Coonan, Clifford. 2016. “Paralympic success challenges China’s attitude to disability.” Irish Times (October 3) http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/asia-pacific/paralympic-success-challenges-china-s-attitude-to-disability-1.2813993 [8.11.16].

Deng, C., Yi, L., Mu, Y., Zhu, J., Qin, Y., Fan, X., Li, Q. & Dai, L. 2015. “Recent trends in the birth prevalence of Down syndrome in China: impact of prenatal diagnosis and subsequent terminations.” Prenatal Diagnosis, 35(4): 311–318.

Liu, Q.-G., Sun, J., Xiao, X., & Song, G.-R. 2016. “Birth Defects Data from Surveillance Hospitals in Dalian City, China, 2006-2010.” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 7058 (November): 1–22.

Mendes, Errol, and Sakunthala Srighantan (ed). 2009. Confronting Discrimination and Inequality in China: Chinese and Canadian Perspectives. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.

NB: other references are linked to in-text.

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Health & Science

Applying China’s New Civil Code, Shanghai Court Annuls Marriage after Husband Hides HIV-positive Status from Wife

The court case triggered discussions on the need for premarital health checks.

Manya Koetse

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Jiang is HIV-positive but did not mention his status to his partner before getting married. Under China’s new civil code, the marriage is now annulled.

On January 4, a Shanghai court applied the new rules of China’s Civil Code for the first time to annul a marriage.

The Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China was adopted by the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress in May of last year and is effective since January 1st 2021. Some experts within China call the law a “milestone legislation” that will better protect people’s civil rights.

On Monday, January 4, a landmark court case in which the new civil code was applied for the first time in Shanghai went trending on Chinese social media.

The case involves a married couple of which the husband had failed to inform his wife that he was HIV positive before getting married.

In June of 2020, Mr. Jiang and Ms. Li got married after Li became pregnant. Afterward, Jiang confessed that he had been HIV-positive for multiple years, and was taking medication to control his disease.

Jiang alleged that, due to his medication, there was effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to his partner. But Li, who did not contract HIV, could not accept the situation and decided to terminate her pregnancy and applied for a marriage annulment.

Under the new civil code, annulment of marriage is possible when a partner who is “seriously ill” – which now includes HIV/AIDS – fails to inform their fiance of their condition before getting married.

Since Jiang had not informed his wife of his condition before tying the knot, the Shanghai Minhang Court ruled in Li’s favor and annulled the marriage.

On Weibo, the case has attracted a lot of attention, with one hashtag about the case (#男方婚前患艾滋未告知婚姻关系被撤销#) attracting 690 million views on Monday.

The news item also led to another hashtag gaining many views: “The Need for Premarital Medical Examination” (#婚前体检的必要性#) had 200 million views on its hashtag page on Monday.

One popular relationship blogger (@感情感分析异地恋) argues that the Shanghai court case shows the importance of couples getting a medical examination before getting married: “It’s not to discriminate against those who are HIV positive or who are suffering from other illnesses, but it’s about informing your partner about these things before getting married.”

Premarital health checks were previously compulsory in China, but these examinations are no longer required since 2003. Many couples do still go for premarital health checkups. According to Xinhua, over 61% of Chinese couples had a medical examination before getting married in 2018.

Although the application of China’s new civil code is generally praised by Weibo users in this case, it has previously also received a lot of negative attention. The new law also introduced a mandatory 30-day “cooling off” period for couples seeking divorce.

This “cooling off” period is seen as harmful to those who are suffering abuse within marriage and already have difficulties in leaving their abusive partner. The case of Lamu, a Tibetan vlogger who died after her husband set her on fire, also led to more online discussions of the “cooling off” period and how it makes women more vulnerable within their marriage.

By Manya Koetse

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Health & Science

Annual List of China’s Best Hospitals: Ranking the Top 10 Hospitals of the Year

These are China’s best hospitals according to the Fudan University annual ranking list.

Manya Koetse

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A new list with the 50 highest rated hospitals in China of the year 2019 has been released earlier this month.

A hospital list, ranking the best hospitals in China, was released earlier this month. The list is independently issued annually since 2010 by the Hospital Management Institute of Shanghai’s Fudan University. It ranks the top 100 hospitals in China and the top 10 hospitals over various clinical specialties. In doing so, it has become one of the most important hospital rankings in China.

The topic became trending on Weibo with over 110 million views (#复旦版中国医院排行榜#). Although there is a major interest in this topic, there are also those questioning what makes a hospital the ‘best’ hospital. This list, among other things, is based on the hospital’s reputation and its capacity to conduct scientific research.

“What is fame and reputation? What I care about when seeing a doctor is their success rate in curing patients,” one social media user wrote – a sentiment shared by many. Others also say it is best to look for the right hospital depending on the patient’s personal needs.

Although it is true that these rankings do not include any rates on treatment results, they are relevant to patients for their reputation and size nonetheless.

China currently has a significant shortage of doctors, and the most qualified doctors are more prone to go to the hospitals with the best reputation. It is an ongoing cycle that has left many of the more rural and smaller hospitals lacking qualified staff. (For more about the problems facing China’s healthcare system, also see this article.)

We will list the top 10 of China’s best hospitals according to the report here, including some basic info.

 

#1 Peking Union Medical College Hospital
中国医学科学院北京协和医院

Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) has topped these rankings consecutively for 11 years. The hospital was founded in 1921 by Rockefeller Foundation and is affiliated to both Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS).

PUMCH offers 2000 beds, has more than 4000 employees, and 57 clinical and medical departments. The hospital recently also launched its online services, including consultation, prescribing medicine, and electronic medical recording, which reportedly will expand to all clinical sections of the hospital.

Weibo: @北京协和医院 (960906 followers)
Website: link
Address: #9 Dongdan 3rd Alley, Dongcheng, Beijing, China

 

#2 West China Hospital Sichuan University
四川大学华西医院

Founded in 1872, the West China Medical Center is China’s biggest hospital in terms of size, and also ranks number two in the list of the world’s largest hospitals (no 1 being the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan). The hospital has a capacity of 4300 beds and there are 46 clinical departments.

West China Hospital has recently been in the news a lot due to the development of its own experimental COVID19 vaccine.

Weibo: @四川大学华西医院 (483829 followers)
Website: link
Address: #37 Guoxue Alley, Wuhou District, Chengdu, Sichuan Province

 

#3 People’s Liberation Army General Hospital / 301 Hospital
中国人民解放军总医院

The General Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army (PLAGH), also known as 301 Hospital or PLA General Hospital, is the largest general hospital under the auspices of the People’s Liberation Army. The military hospital, used by the top leadership, was founded in 1953 and has a capacity of 4000 beds.

Earlier this year, the hospital made headlines for being the first center in Asia to provide newly advanced (ZAP) non-invasive technologies to treat brain tumors.

Website: link
Address: No. 28 Fuxing Road, Haidian District, Beijing

 

#4 Ruijin Hospital
上海交通大学医学院附属瑞金医院

Ruijin Hospital, formally known as Guangci Hospital, was founded in 1907. The hospital has 34 clinical departments, with a capacity of 1774 beds and a staff of over 3300.

The hospital is known for the rescue of burn victim Qiu Caikang, an iron worker of Shanghai Steel Factory who was burnt by molten steel in 1958. Although he suffered extensive burns to 89% of his body – and was thought unlikely to survive -, the staff at the hospital were able to successfully treat him. The hospital’s technologies in treatment of deep burns has since been renowned throughout the country.

Website: link
Address: 197, Rui Jin Er Road,Shanghai 

 

#5 Zhongshan Hospital Fudan University
复旦大学附属中山医院

This Shanghai hospital, which opened in 1937, is a major teaching hospital affiliated with the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University. It was the first large-scale general hospital managed by Chinese people at its time of opening.

Zhongshan Hospital is leading in China when it comes to the treatment of heart, kidney, and diseases, and liver cancer. The hospital has over 1900 beds and more than 4000 hospital staff.

Website: link
Address: 180 Fenglin Road, Shanghai

 

#6 The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University
中山大学附属第一医院

The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. Founded in 1910, the hospital was initially called the Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Public Institution of Medicine. It is one of the largest hospitals in China.

The hospital is renowned for various medical specialties, including liver and kidney transplantion. The hospital has 72 clinical departments, 3523 beds, and over 6000 staff.

Website: link
Address: 58 Zhongshan 2nd Rd, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province

 

#7 Tongji Hospital, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
华中科技大学同济医学院附属同济医院

Tongji Hospital was officially founded by German doctor Erich Paulun in 1900, located in Shanghai, and did not move the Medical College to Wuhan until 1950. The hospital, which now has some 4000 beds and 7000 staff members, has 52 clinical and paramedical departments.

During the new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, the hospital provided 800 beds for severe cases.

Website: link
Address: No.1095 Jie Fang Avenue, Hankou, Wuhan

 

#8 Xijing Hospital
空军军医大学西京医院

Xijing Hospital was founded in 1939 and has since been a hospital of several ‘world’s firsts’, including being world’s first hospital to recreate a ‘4D’-printed breast for a cancer patient who underwent a mastectomy. The hospital also saw China’s first baby born from a transplanted womb.

Xijing Hospital houses 3218 beds.

Website: link
Adress: No. 127 Changle West Road, Xincheng District, Xi’an

 

#9 Huashan Hospital
复旦大学附属华山医院

Huashan Hospital’s main branch is located in the city center of Shanghai, in the former French Concession. The hospital was founded in 1907 as the Chinese Red Cross General Hospital by Governor Shen Dunhe, the founder of the Red Cross Society of China. The hospital opened for business in 1909.

Besides being a general hospital with around 3000 staff members and over 1215 beds at the main branch, it is also Fudan University’s major and renowned teaching hospital. Huashan is one of the best-known hospitals in China.

Website: link
Address: 12 Wulumuqi Middle Rd, Jing’an District, Shanghai

 

#10 Wuhan Union Hospital
华中科技大学同济医学院附属协和医院

Wuhan Union Hospital has a long history; it was founded in 1866 by Griffith John, a Welsh Christian missionary and translator in China. The hospital is an active general hospital, as well as focusing on teaching and scientific research.

The hospital has a total of 5000 beds and more than 8000 staff members. In 2020, the hospital became one of the designated hospitals to treat patients from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Website: link
Address: 1277 Jiefang Avenue, Wuhan, Hubei Province

 

By Manya Koetse

Original photo used in featured image by Adhy Savala

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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