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Can carrying beta thalassaemia trait cause any health problems?

Carrying beta thalassaemia is not an illness, and will never turn into an illness. In fact, carriers are less likely than other people to catch malaria or suffer from heart attacks. Carriers can eat what they want, and do any kind of work they choose.

Some carriers are slightly anaemic (have a lower haemoglobin level than usual). This anaemia has no effect on health or length of life. However, it can become more severe during pregnancy, and sometimes a pregnant carrier needs a blood transfusion. A carrier who is anaemic should have a diet with enough iron and vitamins to make sure that the anaemia does not get worse.

Occasionally a doctor thinks a carrier must be short of iron because they have small red blood cells. If the doctor prescribes iron medicine, in the long run this could do more harm than good. A carrier should take iron medicine only if a special blood test (serum iron or serum ferritin) shows that they are short of iron.

Carriers can give blood provided that they are not anaemic.