Prevalence of alpha-thalassemias in northern Thailand

Human Genetics
M Lemmens-ZygulskaGebhard Flatz


The population of northern Thailand has one of the highest frequencies of alpha-thalassemia in the world. However, the available distributional data are controversial. In addition to deletional types of alpha-thalassemia Hb, type Constant Spring should also be taken into consideration in alpha-thalassemia population studies, because it causes clinical alpha-thalassemia in the homozygous state or when present with both alpha-globin genes deleted in trans. We have examined a sample of 215 healthy subjects from four rural districts of Chiang Mai province. Out of these, 77 exhibited anomalies of the alpha-globin genes (alpha alpha/-alpha 3.7 in 36; -alpha 3.7/-alpha 3.7 in 3; -SEA in 30; alpha alpha/alpha CS alpha in 5; alpha alpha alpha anti 3.7 in 3). Therefore, no fewer than 2% of the children in northern Thailand are expected to be born with HbH disease or thalassemic hydrops fetalis. The considerable public health problem of hemoglobinopaties and the increasing acceptance of family planning necessitates facilities for the pre- and postnatal diagnosis of these disorders at the DNA level.


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