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Korean J Hematol. 2011 Mar;46(1):41-44. English. Original Article.
Usman M , Moinuddin M , Ahmed SA .
Institute of Hematology, Baqai Medical University, Karachi, Pakistan.

BACKGROUND: The diagnostic criterion for beta thalassemia trait (BTT) is elevated Hb-A2 levels. Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) reduces the synthesis of Hb-A2, resulting in reduced Hb-A2 levels, so patients with co-pathological conditions BTT with IDA, may have a normal level of Hb-A2. Many socio-economic factors like unawareness, poor diagnostic facilities, and cost of molecular diagnosis (for screening purposes) result in interpretation of these subjects as normal. METHODS: Venous blood samples from 200 unmarried females having a family history of thalassemia were collected, and basic hematological parameters, hemoglobin electrophoresis, and molecular analysis for beta thalassemia were done. Patients with IDA and patients with co-pathological conditions BTT and IDA were treated with oral iron. These subjects were then followed for a period of 20 weeks. RESULTS: Of the 200 females, 34 were found to be anemic. Hemoglobin electrophoresis identified 16 of these patients as BTT. Molecular analysis of all patients confirmed this diagnosis, but identified 8 additional patients with BTT. Eight patients that were not detected with hemoglobin electrophoresis were found to have co-pathology of BTT with IDA. CONCLUSION: Patients with the co-pathological condition BTT with IDA may be interpreted as being normal, as they have normal Hb-A2 levels. These misdiagnosed subjects when marry with BTT have the potential to produce beta thalassemia major in offspring. This is one of the factors playing a major role in the propagation of beta thalassemia gene in Pakistani population, and become a serious hindrance for the thalassemia prevention program in Pakistan.

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