Blood Home > Thalassemia and Pregnancy

There is a connection between thalassemia and pregnancy in that the disease is an inherited condition. Parents who either have the disease or are carriers for it can pass thalassemia onto their child. Couples who are concerned about thalassemia and pregnancy can undergo genetic testing or use in vitro fertilization to minimize the chances of having a baby with thalassemia.

Is There a Link Between Thalassemia and Pregnancy?

Thalassemia is a type of inherited blood disorder that can cause anemia. It affects a person's ability to produce hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to all parts of the body.
 
Approximately 100,000 babies worldwide are born with severe forms of thalassemia each year. However, the condition occurs more frequently in people of Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Southern Asian, and African ancestry.
 

The Thalassemia Gene and Pregnancy

Parents who carry the mutated thalassemia gene can pass the gene on to their children. A child who inherits one mutated gene is considered to be a carrier, also known as thalassemia trait. Most people who have thalassemia trait lead completely normal, healthy lives.
 

Thalassemia and Pregnancy: What's the Risk?

If two people with beta thalassemia trait (carriers) have a baby, one of three things can happen:
 
  • The baby could receive two normal genes (one from each parent) and have normal blood (1 in 4 chance)
  • The baby could receive one normal gene from one parent and one variant gene from the other parent, and have thalassemia trait (2 in 4 chance)
  • The baby could receive two thalassemia genes (one from each parent) and have a moderate to severe form of the disease (1 in 4 chance).
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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