WHAT IS THALASSEMIA?
Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder affecting the red blood cells.
Thalassemia is caused by a mutation in the cell that makes hemoglobin. The mutation disrupts the normal production of hemoglobin, causing low hemoglobin levels, and a high rate of red blood cell destruction, causing anemia. Thalassemia patients produce a deficiency in either the alpha- or beta- globin. The type of thalassemia depends upon the gene mutation a patient inherits from their parents and which part of the hemoglobin molecule is affected by the mutations. The severity of thalassemia depends upon the mutation of the gene.
Thalassemia affects both males and females. The disorder occurs most often among people of Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Asian, and African descent. Thalassemia is diagnosed in early childhood and is a lifelong condition. Doctors diagnose thalassemia using blood tests.