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
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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: HR Advisor

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an innovative a...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Technician

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Production Technician is required to join a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer - Hosted Telecommunications

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for a Ne...

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor / Partner - Cheltenham

    Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: A very rare high level opportunity with a fir...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower