Key information to keep in mind regarding thalassemia includes:
- Thalassemia is a group of inherited blood disorders that can cause mild to severe anemia.
- The condition involves problems with the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells. As a result, a person with thalassemia does not have enough hemoglobin or red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
- There are two main types: alpha and beta thalassemia. The alpha type occurs when there is a problem with the alpha-globin chain that is part of hemoglobin. The beta type occurs when there is a problem with the beta-globin chain.
- There are mild, moderate, and severe forms of thalassemia. The most common severe form seen in the United States is beta thalassemia major (Cooley's anemia).
- Thalassemia mainly affects people from Mediterranean countries and Asia.