I have a thalassemia trait – Here’s Info

Thalassemia Trait

Welcome to the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation website! Thalassemia Trait Info

This page will give you some information on thalassemia trait. This page will direct you to other trait-related information on our site.

People who have thalassemia trait (also called thalassemia minor) carry the genetic trait for thalassemia. They do not usually experience any health problems, except perhaps a mild anemia.

A person may have either alpha thalassemia trait or beta thalassemia trait. This is depending upon which form of beta protein is lacking. Click here to learn more about having the alpha trait and here to learn more about having the beta trait.

If you have the trait, your physician may prescribe iron supplements because your red blood cells are smaller than 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 they believe is related to thalassemia. In such cases, physicians should look carefully for other causes of these ailments. The reason for this is because there are no significant health-related issues associated with having the trait.

Addressing these issues by “treating” thalassemia trait prevents the doctor from addressing the actual underlying cause of the issues.

The most important reason for discovering if you carry the 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.

Finding out if you carry thalassemia trait is not hard. 

First, ask your physician to look at the MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) of your CBC (Complete Blood Count). You most likely already have a CBC on file; if not, ask to have one taken.

If the MCV is 80 or less and you are not iron deficient, then you may have thalassemia trait. Other blood tests, called a hemoglobin electrophoresis and a quantification of hemoglobin A2 and hemoglobin F, can then verify your trait status.

For any questions about thalassemia trait, please contact the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation at (212) 279-8090 ext. 205 or escott@thalassemia.org.

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