Learn About Alpha Thalassemia

View Main Condition: Thalassemia

What is the definition of Alpha Thalassemia?

Alpha thalassemia is a blood disorder that reduces the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body.

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What are the causes of Alpha Thalassemia?

Alpha thalassemia typically results from deletions involving the HBA1 and HBA2 genes. Less commonly, changes to the DNA sequence in or near these genes cause alpha thalassemia. Such changes are often referred to as nondeletion variants. Both the HBA1 and HBA2 genes provide instructions for making a protein called alpha-globin, which is a component (subunit) of hemoglobin.

How prevalent is Alpha Thalassemia?

Alpha thalassemia is a fairly common blood disorder worldwide. Thousands of infants with Hb Bart syndrome and HbH disease are born each year, particularly in Southeast Asia. Alpha thalassemia also occurs frequently in people from Mediterranean countries, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Central Asia.

Is Alpha Thalassemia an inherited disorder?

The inheritance of alpha thalassemia is complex. Each person inherits two alpha-globin alleles from each parent. If both parents are missing at least one alpha-globin allele, their children are at risk of having Hb Bart syndrome, HbH disease, or alpha thalassemia trait. The precise risk depends on how many alleles are missing and which combination of the HBA1 and HBA2 genes is affected.

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Published Date: December 02, 2022Published By: National Institutes of Health

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