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Get Yourself and Your Partner Tested for the Thalassemia Trait!

There are roughly 6 crore people in India who carry the Thalassemia trait. Since the trait doesn't impact them directly, most of them are unaware of this. However if two people carrying the Thalassemia trait get married, there is a 25% chance that their children will have the dangerous Thalassemia Major disease.

Children affected by Thalassemia seldom live beyond 40. Their lives are continuously dependent on blood transfusions and medication. Permanent cures like stem cell transplants are very expensive and also very risky.

It is thus advised that people getting married should take a simple blood test and ensure that both the partners are not carrying the Thalassemia trait.

What are possible types of Thalassemia?

Each person can be either of the following three :

  1. Normal
  2. Thalassemia Minor
  3. Thalassemia Major

What is Thalassemia Major?

Thalassemia Major is a serious blood disorder.People with the Thalassemia Major has insufficient hemoglobin, the critical oxyzen carrying component of blood.

  1. Patients with Thalassemia Major need blood transfusions every 3-8 weeks to maintain hemoglobin levels and therefore at risk of
  2. Blood transfusion ralated infections like hepatitis C, hepatitis B & HIV.
  3. Iron overload with damage to the liver, heart, pancreas and endocrine glands.
  4. With regular transfusion and removal of iron (chelation therapy), Thalassemics can live and grow into adulthood. If comlications are avoided, they can enjoy a productive life.
  5. Untreated Thalassemia Major eventually leads to death.
  6. The onlu curative treatment is bone marrow transplant.

What is the cause of Thalassemia?

Thalassemia Major is genetic condition and this means that it may be passed on to children by Thalassemia Minor parents. Thalassemia Major can not be contracted in any other way.

  1. Approximately over 10,000 Thalassemia Major patients are born in India every year.
  2. Thalassemia Major child is born when both parents are Thalassemia Minors.
  3. Most of the Thalassemia Major patients are diagnosed between 6 months to 24 months of child birth.
  4. Initial symptoms include paleness, failure to thrive and abdominal distension due to enlargement of liver and spleen.

Thalassemia Trait Testing Detils

Testing for the Thalassemia Trait usually happens in two parts :
Indicative Test : Complete Blood Count Test

  1. This test is the same as the simple blood test that most employees go through this test during pre-employment checkups. However, most employers do not actively look for the Thalassemia Trait.
  2. Costs roughly Rs 200.
  3. Available at most nursing homes or hospitals.

Confirmatory Tests : Hb HPLC or Hb Electrophoresis for Hb A2 Estimation

  1. Required only if the indicator test is positive.
  2. Costs roughly Rs 600.
  3. Available at select testing centers only. Please contact your doctor to find a testing center near you.
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