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Your body makes three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white
blood cells, and platelets (PLATE-lets). Red blood cells contain
hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen from your lungs
to all parts of your body. Hemoglobin also carries carbon dioxide (a
waste gas) from your body to your lungs to be exhaled.
Hemoglobin has two kinds of protein chains: alpha globins and beta
globins. If your body doesn't make enough of these protein chains,
red blood cells don't form properly and can't carry enough oxygen.
Your body won't work well if your red blood cells don't make enough
healthy hemoglobin.
Genes control how the body makes hemoglobin protein chains.
When these genes are missing or altered, thalassemia occur.
Thalassemia are inherited disorders. That is, they're passed on from
parents to their children through genes. People who get abnormal
hemoglobin genes from one parent but normal genes from the
other are called carriers. Carriers often have no signs of illness other
than mild anemia. However, they can pass the abnormal genes on
to their children.
People with moderate to severe forms of thalassemia have inherited
abnormal genes from both parents.
Family history and ancestry
 Thalassemia are inherited, which means
they're passed on from parents to their
children. If your parents have missing or
altered hemoglobin-making genes, you
may have a thalassemia.
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The Maldives has the highest incidence
of Thalassemia in the world with a carrier
rate of 18% of the population. The
estimated prevalence is 16% in people
from Cyprus, 1% in Thailand, and 3-8% in
populations from Bangladesh, China,
India, Malaysia and Pakistan.
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No statistically significant differences
were found in the average life
expectancy between the thalassemia
and non thalassemia groups.
People with thalassemia
major may experience the
following:
 Paleness
 Headaches
 Fatigue
 Shortness of breath
 Jaundice
 Spleen enlargement
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Thalassemia trait : Normally, there are no treatments
recommended. However, the doctor may suggest
taking iron medication if they feel it is necessary.
Thalassemia major : The primary treatment is regular
blood transfusions, usually every four weeks. In
addition to the blood transfusions, doctors
recommend injections of Deferral to help the body
flush out the extra iron created by the new blood. The
injections are given under the skin from a small pump
5 to 7 nights a week.
Additionally, splenectomy (removal of the spleen),
bone marrow transplants and chelating therapy are
being researched as possible treatments for
thalassemia.
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