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Alpha Thalassemia? Barts Hemoglobin? Help!
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Alpha Thalassemia? Barts Hemoglobin? Help!

  I got a letter in the mail, saying my child had these. I was wondering if anyone else got this letter? Or if anyone knows what it is? Please, I'm going out of my mind trying to find out. If you can help, please!
  Thank you,
  Samantha
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Dear Samantha,
These two tests are done in the newborn nursery and sent to your state's laboratory for testing. Results are mailed back to the parent as the state does not know who each child's pediatrician is. It's probably not the best system for notification for the very reason that positive tests can be very frightening to parents, but all states do it this way, probably because it gets parents in to see their child's doctors. There are a number of things they tests for, including sickle cell disease, and hypothyroidism.
Alpha Thallassemia is an inheriteded disorder, most common in Asian and African populations. There are many degrees of the disease ranging from merely having the trait, to a fatal form called hydrops fatalis. The alpha hemoglobin chains in the  red blood cells are not synthesized correctly, resulting in an imbalance between the normal globin chains, which in turn leads to damage of the rell cell's membranes and hemolysis, or rupture of the red cells in the blood. The end result is anemia, or decreased oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.
The presence of Bart's hemoglobin indicates that your child  has a very minor form of the disease or possibly only carries the trait.  Your child's pediatrician can repeat the test to confirm the diagnosis, and if needed, refer you to genetics or a pediatric hemotologist. Iron supplements are of little or no value in preventing anemia.
HFHS.RN-AM
*KEYWORD:Thalassemia minor or major, anemia, hydrops fatalis




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