Author(s): Colah R, Gorakshakar A, Nadkarni A
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Abstract The β-thalassemias, including the hemoglobin E disorders, are not only common in the Mediterranean region, South-East Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East but have now become a global problem, spreading to much of Europe, the Americas and Australia owing to migration of people from these regions. Approximately 1.5\% of the global population are heterozygotes or carriers of the β-thalassemias. While the overall frequencies of carriers of these disorders are known in most countries, there have been few attempts at micromapping and wherever this has been done, significant variations are seen even within small geographic regions. Thus, the figures for the estimated numbers of births each year of homozygous β-thalassemia and the severe compound states involving other hemoglobin disorders may be an underestimate. Screening strategies have varied from premarital to antenatal in different countries depending on socio-cultural and religious customs in different populations. Prenatal diagnosis programs are ongoing in many countries and the knowledge of the distribution of mutations has facilitated the establishment of successful control programs. Many of these were through North-South partnerships and networking. Yet, there are many countries in Asia where they are lacking, and South-South partnerships are now being developed in South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent to link centers with expertise to centers where expertise needs to be developed. Although the carrier frequencies will remain unaltered, this will eventually help to bring down the burden of the birth of affected children with β-thalassemias and hemoglobin E disorders in Asia.
This article was published in Expert Rev Hematol
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis