Thalassemia is an inherited disorder that affects the production of normal hemoglobin (a type of protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues in the body). Thalassemia includes a number of different forms of anemia. The severity and type of anemia depends upon the number of genes that are affected.
This disorder is common in populations around the Mediterranean Sea, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The presenting symptom for all forms of thalassemia is anemia (a deficiency of red blood cells), in varying degrees - from mild to severe.