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The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that globally at least 5% of adults are genetic carriers for a haemoglobin condition.


Thalassaemia is the name given to a group of genetically inherited blood disorders. These disorders affect haemoglobin production in the red blood cells.  For fact sheets click here.

Haemoglobin is a protein in the blood cells that carries oxygen around our bodies and is made up of two very important protein chains Alpha (a) and Beta (b) globin.   For fact sheets click here.

Thalassaemia is passed on from parent and child through the genes. Genes carry information about human characteristics such as eye colour, hair colour and haemo(globin).  For fact sheets click here.

Some changes occur to genes, resulting in medical conditions. The globin genes carry information for individuals to make haemoglobin, however changes in the globin genes can result in the following:

Beta Thalassaemia Major

a severe anaemia requiring life long treatment, including monthly blood transfusions.

Alpha thalassaemia

one type can be fatal for baby and dangerous for mother during pregnancy.  For fact sheets click here.

Sickle cell anaemia

a condition which may require regular blood transfusions. Extremely painful blockages of blood vessels occur throughout life due to changes in shape of the red blood cells.  For fact sheets click here.

Haemoglobin E

usually a benign condition, but if inherited with beta thalassaemia or sickle cell, can result in severe condition requiring life long treatment.  For fact sheets click here.

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Last update: 19th August, 2014.