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HealthInfo Canterbury


Thalassaemia (thal-ass-ee-me-a) 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.

Thalassaemia is diagnosed with a blood test.

There are several types of thalassaemia. Some types don't cause health problems, while other types cause severe health problems.

If thalassaemia runs in your family, talk to your doctor about getting tested.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2020.

Page reference: 147719

Review key: HIANA-16978