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Thalassemias are inherited disorders characterized by abnormal production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. They result in low hemoglobin production and destruction of red blood cells. These diseases usually occur only in people who have at least two abnormal genes. Carriers (people with only one abnormal gene) usually do not have any problems, unless they carry other abnormal genes that interact with the thalassemia gene.

Listed in the directory below, you will find additional information regarding two different types of thalassemia, for which we have provided a brief overview.

Alpha Thalassemia

Beta Thalassemia (Cooley's Anemia)



  • Enlarged spleen

  • Peripheral blood smear shows small, abnormally shaped red blood cells

  • Complete blood count shows anemia

  • Hemoglobin electrophoresis shows abnormal hemoglobin


Regular blood transfusions and folate supplements are treatments for severe thalassemia. Medications are needed to remove excess iron in patients receiving transfusions frequently.

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