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Trop Med Int Health. 1999 Apr;4(4):302-7.

The contribution of alpha+-thalassaemia to anaemia in a Nigerian population exposed to intense malaria transmission.

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Institute for Tropical Medicine and Medical Faculty Charité, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany.


The proportion to which alpha-thalassaemia contributes to anaemia in Africa is not well recognized. In an area of intense malaria transmission in South-West Nigeria, haematological parameters of alpha-thalassaemia were examined in 494 children and 119 adults. The -alpha3.7 type of alpha+-thalassaemia was observed at a gene frequency of 0.27. Nine and 36.5% of individuals were homozygous and heterozygous, respectively. P.falciparum-infection was present in 78% of children and in 39% of adults. The alpha-globin genotypes did not correlate with the prevalence of P. falciparum-infection. alpha+-thalassaemic individuals had significantly lower mean values of haemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume, and mean corpuscular haemoglobin than non-thalassaemic subjects. Anaemia was seen in 54. 7% of children with a normal alpha-globin genotype, in 69.9% of heterozygous (odds ratio: 1.99, 95% confidence interval: 1.32-3.00, P = 0.001), and in 88.4% of homozygous alpha+-thalassaemic children (odds ratio: 7.72, 95% confidence interval: 2.85-20.90, P = 0.0001). The findings show that alpha+-thalassaemia contributes essentially to mild anaemia, microcytosis, and hypochromia in Nigeria.

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