Beta Thalassaemia: a genetic legacy


"I've been having tests for anaemia, and the laboratory has discovered that I carry beta thalassaemia. I've been told that this won't cause me any problems, but my parents and grandparents were born in the UK and, as far as we know, there is no Mediterranean or Middle Eastern ancestry in our family, so how is it possible that I have this condition, which is supposed to affect only people from other parts of the world?"

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Beta thalassaemia is a genetic blood disorder that is common is some parts of the world Mediterranean countries, the Middle East, and Asia. It is relatively rare among native "British" people. If you are a carrier of beta thalassaemia, you will have inherited it from one of your parents. So, if your parents are still alive and willing to have blood tests, you might be able to trace which side of the family it has come from. The likelihood is that someone in a previous generation had a partner who was originally from a part of the world where thalassaemia is common. The important point for you is that, if you have children with a partner who is also a carrier of beta thalassaemia, there is a one-in-four chance that a child could inherit the gene from both of you, and this would cause the child to have the serious form of the disease beta thalassaemia major. Before you have children, it is important to find out if your partner is also a carrier. You can find out more from your local Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre, or the UK Thalassaemia Society (www.ukts.org).

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

    £17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

    £35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada