Thalassemia is a genetic disorder of the blood that affects a person’s ability to produce hemoglobin, resulting in anemia. About 100,000 babies worldwide are born with severe forms of thalassemia each year.The two main types of Thalassemia are “alpha” and “beta”.
Types of Thalassemia
- Immediately after birth, a person having thalassemia can suffer from severe anemia requiring blood transfusion.
- These individuals would require blood transfusions every 3-4 weeks to maintain their hemoglobin levels.
- In addition the individual also requires medicines to remove the excess iron build up due to repeated transfusions.
- Due to transfusions they are at a risk of blood transfusion related infections like Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, HIV.
- Iron overload can cause severe damage to all vital organs like heart, lung, liver, kidney etc.
- These individuals are prone to suffer from longstanding anemia which does not respond to iron therapy. Diagnosis of this condition is based on clinical signs.
- Counseling with respect to therapy, childbearing and resource availability is essential as this is an inherited disorder. Carriers of beta thalassemia do not have a bothersome condition and do not need to worry about any development over time. Some carriers may experience mild anemia, which may be inaccurately diagnosed as iron deficiency anemia, hence a special diet or medical aid is not required.