What is Thalassemia?

Updated: 2013-05-09 09:32

By Li Yang (China Daily)

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Thalassemia is a genetic blood disease originating in Italy and prevalent in Southern Europe, South Asia, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. About 4.83 percent of the world population carries the thalassemia gene.

If both parents carry the genes, there is a 25 percent chance their child will have severe thalassemia, a 50 percent chance it will carry the gene and a 25 percent chance it will be healthy. Thalassemia can cause significant complications, including pneumonia, iron overload, bone deformities and cardiovascular disease.

Most babies with severe thalassemia die before they reach age 10 if they do not receive regular blood transfusions and adequate iron chelation therapy.

Premarital checkups, pre-pregnancy checkups and prenatal diagnosis are necessary to prevent and control the disease.