How Is Thalassemia Inherited?

How Is Beta Thalassemia Inherited?

Two genes are involved in making the beta-globin part of hemoglobin -- one from each parent. Beta thalassemia occurs when one or both of the two genes are variant. Examples of beta thalassemia include:
  • If one gene is affected, a person is a carrier and has mild anemia. This condition is called beta thalassemia trait or beta thalassemia minor.
  • If both genes are variant, a person may have moderate anemia (beta thalassemia intermedia or mild Cooley's anemia) or severe anemia (beta thalassemia major or Cooley's anemia).

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).

Thalassemia Anemia

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