During the paediatric first aid courses I talk about Sickle Cell Anaemia and I mention the increase recently in the number of children suffering from thalassaemia. It has been my intention to raise awareness for childcare professionals about this blood disorder for a while.

Below is a simple explanation and a link to more information about this disorder.

DuThalassAemias are a group of blood disorders that affect the way the body makes HAEMOGLOBIN, a protein found in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body.

The body contains more red blood cells than any other type of cell, and each has a life span of about 4 months. Each day, the body produces new red blood cells to replace those that die or are lost from the body.

With a thalassaemia, the red blood cells are destroyed at a faster rate, leading to anaemia, a condition that can cause fatigue and other complications.

Thalassaemias are inherited conditions — they’re carried in the genes and passed on from parents to children. People who are carriers of a thalassaemia gene show no thalassaemia symptoms and might not know they’re carriers. If both parents are carriers, they can pass the disease to their kids. Thalassaemias are not contagious.

While there are many different types of thalassemias, the main two are:

  1. Alpha thalassaemia: when the body has a problem producing alpha globin
  2. Beta thalassaemia: when the body has a problem producing beta globin

When the gene that controls the production of either of these proteins is missing or mutated, it results in that type of thalassaemia.

Thalassaemias are most common in families from Asia, the Mediterranean basin, and the Middle East.

Sickle-cell disease / thalassaemia can be managed by simple procedures including:

  • high fluid intake
  • healthy diet
  • folic acid supplementation
  • pain medication
  • vaccination and antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections
  • a number of other therapeutic measures.

WHO | Sickle-cell disease and other haemoglobin disorders

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