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HealthInfo Canterbury

Thalassaemia

Thalassaemia is a type of anaemia that you inherit from your parents – you are born with it. It happens because your red blood cells can't carry as much oxygen around your body as normal. This is because haemoglobin, which is the protein that carries oxygen around, is a different shape or size in people with thalassaemia.

Thalassaemia is most common in people who come from southeast and central Asia, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India, Africa and Polynesia.

There are several types of thalassaemia. Some types don't cause health problems, while other types cause severe health problems. Talk to your doctor if this runs in the family, you know you have it, or think you may be at risk of it and are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Thalassaemia is diagnosed with a blood test.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. June 2015.

Page reference: 147719

Review key: HIANA-16978