How could carrying beta thalassaemia affect your child?

If you are a beta thalassaemia carrier and your partner does not carry any blood disorder then there is no particular problem for your child. However, in each pregnancy there is a 50% chance that the child may also carry beta thalassaemia.

If both of you are beta thalassaemia carriers, then there is a 25% chance that you could have a child with beta thalassaemia major (see diagram). A child with beta thalassaemia major suffers from severe anaemia which can be life-threatening. Treatment is life long.

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What should a carrier do if they are thinking of having children?

They should tell their partner that they carry beta thalassaemia, and ask him or her to have a blood test "for haemoglobin disorders". This test should be done before they start a pregnancy, or as soon as possible once a pregnancy has started. This can be arranged by your GP. If their partner is not a carrier, there is nothing to worry about.

What should they do if their partner is also a carrier?

They should ask their GP for an immediate appointment with a specialist counsellor. This is particularly important if they have already started a pregnancy. They can also contact the counselling service directly at the Project.

Is there anything else that a carrier should do?

If a carrier has brothers or sisters, or already has children, they need to know that they may also carry beta thalassaemia. They should ask their GP to arrange family screening.