- Better known today as thalassemia (or as beta thalassemia or thalassemia major). The clinical picture of this important type of anemia was first described in 1925 by the pediatrician Thomas Benton Cooley.
Hemoglobin contains two chains, alpha and beta globin. Genetic defects can be inherited that cause imbalances in the production of either chain.
Anemia leads to low production, and over destruction, of red blood cells.
Under a microscope, red blood cells affected by Mediterranean anemia appear pale and small. Mediterranean anemia occurs most often in people of Mediterranean descent. It's caused by a defect in the genes that make hemoglobin.
- Shortness of breath
- Yellow discoloration of the skin (Constipation)
Thalassemia shouldn't be confused with iron deficiency anemia. People with thalassemia actually have mild iron overload. For this reason, they shouldn't take iron supplements unless advised to by a doctor.