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CMAJ. Jul 1, 1987; 137(1): 39–42.
PMCID: PMC1492394

Hemoglobin E: a common hemoglobinopathy among children of Southeast Asian origin.

Abstract

With the recent immigration of Southeast Asians to Canada, hemoglobin E has become a frequent diagnosis. The clinical and hematologic findings in 42 children (mean age 4.3 years) with hemoglobin E are presented. There were 33 heterozygotes (having hemoglobin E trait), 6 homozygotes (having hemoglobin EE) and 3 double heterozygotes (having hemoglobin E-beta-thalassemia). The heterozygotes had low-normal hemoglobin levels and mean corpuscular volumes; coexisting iron deficiency, present in 62% of these children, resulted in substantially lower hemoglobin levels, very low mean corpuscular volumes and lower than expected levels of hemoglobin E on electrophoresis. The children with hemoglobin EE were only slightly anemic, but those with hemoglobin E-beta-thalassemia had severe anemia and required long-term transfusion therapy. Nutritional factors and parasitic infestations were the main causes of iron depletion, which was common, particularly in children less than 2 years old (87%). Physicians of patients of Southeast Asian origin should be aware of the clinical and hematologic presentation of these hemoglobinopathies.

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Selected References

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