Thalassemia

Friday, December 04, 2009

More than 100,000 babies born each year have severe forms of thalassemia, making it one of the most common genetic disorders. Dr. Edward Hill discusses this blood disorder in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Thalassemia is a general name for a group of inherited blood diseases that involve abnormalities in hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying part of the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is mainly made up of two kinds of protein, called alpha and beta globin. Individuals with thalassemia do not produce enough of one, or occasionally both, of these proteins. As a result, their red blood cells may be abnormal and unable to carry enough oxygen throughout the body. There are two types of thalassemia: alpha and beta.

If you have a milder form of thalassemia, you may not have any symptoms. If you have a more severe form, you may have anemia or other serious health problems. Some people with the severe form can die in early adulthood.

Children with more severe forms of thalassemia may need blood transfusions starting as early as six months of age. While some children can be cured of thalassemia with a bone marrow transplant, others may need treatment their whole lives.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.