Beta-thalassemia

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Is there a cure for beta-thalassemia?

Currently, there is no cure for beta-thalassemia, but there are treatments and medications available to manage symptoms. Bone marrow transplant and cord blood transplant have been used in cases where a compatible donor is found. Blood transfusion and iron chelation are essential to overall well-being and health in individuals with beta-thalassemia.

References
  • Taher A, Vichinsky E, Musallam K, Cappellini MD, Viprakasit V. Guidelines for the Management of Non Transfusion Dependent Thalassaemia (NTDT). Thalassemia International Foundation; 2013.
  • Beta-thalassemia. [Internet]. Genetics Home Reference. [updated September 2015].Available from: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/beta-thalassemia
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Can I get pregnant if I have beta-thalassemia?

What is the life expectancy for individuals with beta-thalassemia?

How do I know the blood a person with beta-thalassemia receive in transfusion is safe?

What is the risk of having a blood related infection through transfusion in patients with beta-thalassemia?

What would happen if a person with beta-thalassemia is untreated?

Can I get pregnant if I have beta-thalassemia?

Provided that a multidisciplinary team is available, pregnancy is possible and safe, and usually has a favorable outcome in women with beta-thalassemia. An increasing number of women with thalassemia major and thalassemia intermedia may, therefore, have children. Pregnant women should receive counseling regarding the risks and benefits of the use of iron chelation drugs during pregnancy.

References
  • Origa R, Piga A, Quarta G. et al. Pregnancy and beta-thalassemia: an Italian multicenter experience. Haematologica. 2010;95:376?81.
  • Beta-thalassemia. [Internet]. Genetics Home Reference. [updated September 2015].Available from: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/beta-thalassemia
What is the life expectancy for individuals with beta-thalassemia?

With improved screening programs, non-invasive iron measurement, better methods of measuring iron's impact, a safer blood supply and more drug treatment options, people with thalassemia are surviving into their fifth decade and beyond.

References
How do I know the blood a person with beta-thalassemia receive in transfusion is safe?

The U.S. government monitors the potential transmission of diseases that may occur through transfused blood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has two programs that address this issue. First, through its established Universal Data Collection system, CDC screens for blood-borne pathogens like hepatitis and HIV. In addition, CDC developed the Thalassemia Data and Blood Specimen Collection system to help detect further known and emerging infections that may affect people who get frequent transfusions, such as those with severe forms of thalassemia.

References
What is the risk of having a blood related infection through transfusion in patients with beta-thalassemia?

The United States blood supply is among the safest in the world. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has in place a five-layer safeguard system to help ensure the safety of blood given to recipients.

These safeguards are not perfect - for example, sometimes an infection has an "incubation period" during which it may not be detected by any known tests - but they are effective at keeping blood safety at a very high level. The most recent studies suggest the risk of HIV or hepatitis C from blood transfusions is about 1 in 1,000,000. The risk of hepatitis B infection, however, is somewhat likelier. Thalassemia patients should make sure that they receive leukoreduced (white blood cells removed) red blood cells, in order to reduce the risk of transfusion reactions. This is standard practice in the United States.

References
What would happen if a person with beta-thalassemia is untreated?

If untreated, affected children usually have growth problems and delays (failure to thrive) and expansion of the bone marrow. Untreated, thalassemia major also leads to heart failure and liver problems. It also makes a person more likely to develop infections.

References

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