Courtesy by: ameinfo.com
Doctors in the Middle East are renewing their call for couples in the region to get blood test screening done before marriage in an effort to detect whether they are carriers of Thalassemia, the most common, inherited single gene disorder in the world.
‘If both potential parents have the thalassemia trait, there is a 25% chance their child will be born with the severe form of thalassemia. Sadly, parents who don’t get tested sometimes only find out they carry the thalassemia trait after their child is born with the disease,’,
says Dr. Essam Dohair, Coordinator, Dubai Thalassemia Center.
People with thalassemia are found anywhere in the world, but it is most commonly found among particular ethnicities, including those persons of Middle Eastern or Gulf ancestry.
Further complications ensue if thalassemia is not detected or treated properly. Most types of thalassemia cause red blood cells to be slightly smaller than usual, leading to a condition called microcytosis. Since iron deficiency most commonly causes microcytosis, doctors often mistakenly misdiagnose thalassemia as an iron deficiency and prescribe iron supplements.
Thalassemia and iron deficiency are different problems. Before doctors prescribe iron supplements, they should perform lab tests to evaluate iron levels and rule out thalassemia with blood screening.
Many thalassemia patients must receive regular blood transfusions as part of their medical treatment, which puts them at risk for iron overload. Too much iron can lead to permanent organ damage of the liver, heart and endocrine glands, leading to more serious and life-threatening health problems.
‘Early detection and comprehensive treatment have changed thalassemia from a fatal pediatric disease to one in which patients can live productive lives as an adult, thanks to medical advances,’ says Dr. Dohair. ‘However, many people in the Middle East are unaware of their genetic risk of thalassemia and need better information about comprehensive screening tests and treatment, including blood transfusion.’