The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India

, Volume 69, Issue 6, pp 495–500 | Cite as

Can RBC Indices be Used as Screening Test for Beta-Thalassemia in Indian Antenatal Women?

  • Mayura Baliyan
  • Manisha KumarEmail author
  • Anita Nangia
  • Nupur Parakh
Original Article



To determine the appropriateness of using MCV/MCH as screening test for beta-thalassemia trait in the present population and also to find the most appropriate cutoff for optimum sensitivity of these indices.


It was an analytical, observational and cross-sectional study. Complete blood count followed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was performed. The MCV and MCH levels were noted in cases and controls.


Thalassemia trait was found in 66 out of 1300 antenatal women with anemia. The MCV and MCH were significantly low in cases (p = 0.0001). MCV had a better AUC (0.650) than MCH (0.635). The most suitable cutoff value of MCV was calculated as 72 fl (sensitivity—63.7%, specificity—68.3%, PPV—9.7%, LR—2.0) and that for MCH was 24 pg (sensitivity—63.6%, specificity—59.4%, PPV—7.7%, LR—1.5) using Youden’s index. When MCH (cutoff of 28 pg) and MCV were combined (cutoff of 74 fl), the sensitivity and specificity were 95% and 16%, respectively.


The sensitivity and specificity of MCV and MCH alone had low detection rate when used in combination had high sensitivity but the specificity was low; therefore, HPLC should be the preferred screening test for beta-thalassemia in Indian women.


RBC indices Microcytic anemia Carrier testing Beta-thalassemia trait 


Author Contributions

Mayura Balliyan conducted the study, co-analyzed the data, and drafted and revised the manuscript. Manisha Kumar was involved in the concept and planning of the study, conducted the study, co-analyzed the data and drafted the manuscript. Anita Nangia conducted the study and drafted the manuscript. Nupur Parakh conducted the study and revised the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

There is no potential conflict of interest among authors.

Human Participants and Informed Consent

The research involved human participants. Informed consent was taken before the study.

Ethical Standard

Ethical clearance was taken before the study.


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Copyright information

© Federation of Obstetric & Gynecological Societies of India 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mayura Baliyan
    • 1
  • Manisha Kumar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anita Nangia
    • 2
  • Nupur Parakh
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyLady Hardinge Medical CollegeNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Department of PathologyLady Hardinge Medical CollegeNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.KSCHNew DelhiIndia

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