Thalassemia is a congenital disease of the blood that's traditionally found among people of Mediterranean origin. The name of the disease has a Greek etymology and the country of Greece boasts one of the largest carrier population centers for Thalassemia in the world.
Individuals who suffer from Thalassemia have difficulty making certain hemoglobin proto-molecules. Various forms of the condition exist. Alpha Thalassemia, for instance, involves the creation of malformed alpha-globin particles; whereas beta Thalassemia involves the production of dysfunctional beta-globin.
According to some surveys, just several hundred people in the US today currently live with the condition. That said, there are literally tens of millions of carriers of the recessive genes for Thalassemia. Why do so many carry this allele? Geneticists have postulated numerous reasons. Perhaps the beta Thalassemia gene (the most common Thalassemia gene) provides protection against diseases like malaria or heart disease. Other researchers believe that the recessive gene confers protection against certain other blood diseases, such as anemia and bacterial blood infections.
Babies born with this disorder can undergo treatment to relieve some symptoms. These treatments involve transfusions, supplementation, chelation with iron, and (potentially) gene therapy. Other studies have shown that anti-oxidant and iron supplementation might be effective at reducing symptoms.
Given the costly nature of therapy - which often involves many blood transfusions over a lifetime and incalculable emotional costs to parents and children alike - it's important that expecting parents that are at-risk be fully informed and receive appropriate prenatal screening during a pregnancy.
If you need to consult a New Jersey personal injury attorney, you need to contact Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari. The initial consultation is always free.