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People who have thalassemia trait (also called thalassemia minor) carry the genetic trait for thalassemia but do not usually experience any health problems except perhaps a mild anemia. A person may have either alpha thalassemia trait or beta thalassemia trait, depending upon which form of beta protein is lacking. If you have thalassemia trait, your physician may prescribe iron supplements because your red blood cells are smaller than is typical. Unless you also have iron deficiency in addition to thalassemia, this is not needed and should be avoided.
Occasionally, a person with thalassemia may experience some physical ailments that s/he believes is related to thalassemia. In such cases, physicians should look carefully for other causes of these ailments, as there are no significant health-related issues associated with thalassemia trait. Trying to address these issues by “treating” thalassemia trait may prevent the doctor from addressing whatever the actual underlying cause of the issues may be.
The most important reason for discovering if you carry the thalassemia trait is this: If two people who each carry the same form of thalassemia trait have a child, there is a 25% chance that this child will be born with a severe form of thalassemia.
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