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Thalassemia in Children

  • Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes the body to produce less hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that helps them carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. The condition causes anemia that can range from mild to life-threatening.

    Severe forms of thalassemia (thalassemia major) require lifelong follow-up care and regular blood transfusions. Some other forms are more manageable and require little or no treatment.

    How Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center approaches thalassemia

    At the Thalassemia Program of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, our experts provide comprehensive care for children and adults with all forms of thalassemia. About our team:

    • Specialists in hematology and transfusion medicine lead our care team, while our partners in cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, audiology, ophthalmology, infectious disease, genetics and genetic counseling join your child’s care team when needed.
    • We offer expertise in thalassemia treatment, as well as access to the latest clinical trials.
    • We offer advanced magnetic resonance imaging techniques to monitor children for transfusion-related iron overload, including FerriScan and T2*.
    • We have a nurse practitioner who works with you to identify your and your child’s needs and coordinates your child’s care.
    • We offer one the largest and most active Stem Cell Transplant Center in the United States.
    • We are involved in a number of research initiatives aimed at improving thalassemia care including:
      • investigating the effectiveness of new oral iron chelators, drugs that remove excess iron from the body
      • improving existing chelation therapies
      • using stem cell transplants to cure patients with thalassemia major
      • developing new ways to assess iron levels in the body
      • improving the effectiveness of currently available thalassemia treatment

    Reviewed by Kapil Saxena, MD, and Ellis Neufeld, MD, PhD
    © Boston Children’s Hospital 2013

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