What causes Thalassemia?

Thalassemia belongs to a group of health conditions known as anemias. Thalassemia is considered an anemia because it affects the quantity of red blood cell (RBC) production or the amount of hemoglobin (Hb) within them and is therefore classified as a red blood cell disorder [1]. Recent advances in genetic medicine have allowed for the identification of hundreds of different types of thalassemia. People can be diagnosed with more than one type of anemia besides thalassemia.

Anemias create abnormalities in the blood and may cause a wide variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Some anemias are very common, while others are very rare. Depending on which type you have, they can be either treated or managed long term.

Anemias can be caused by:

  • genetic defect (e.g., thalassemia, sickle cell, G6PD deficiency)
  • unbalanced diet or problems with absorbing too few nutrients (e.g., B12 vitamin, iron)
  • trauma and bleeding (e.g., from surgery or accident)
  • allergic reactions (e.g., wheat intolerance)
  • chronic illness(e.g. kidney failure, cancer)
  • infection (e.g. from hepatitis, malaria)
  • medication or other chemicals (e.g. chemotheraphy, pesticides)