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J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2015 May;37(4):281-4. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0000000000000327.

Cultural preferences and limited public resources influence the spectrum of thalassemia in Egypt.

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Thalasemia Centre, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.



Cultural beliefs of Egyptians with respect to the origin of thalassemia and its prevention, as well as national resources available for care, often differ from those of Western countries.


To assess the impact of cultural attitudes and the effect of limited medical and financial resources that could affect the management of Egyptian thalassemic patients.


A cross sectional study included 205 Egyptians β-thalassemia major (β-TM) patients, with a mean age of 149±87.90 months and a male to female ratio of 94:111.


Demographic data stressing on order of birth, consanguineous marriage, and family history of β-TM, transfusion, and chelation therapy, were reported. HCV-Ab, HBV-Ag, and complete blood count were recorded with calculation of mean pretransfusional hemoglobin.


The age distribution was relatively nonhomogenous, with 39% of patients between 10 and 20 years of age and 16% were younger than 5. There were high family birth rates and 35% of patients were third or more in order of birth and a marked cultural preference for consanguineous marriage, representing 61% of all the parents' marriages, as well as a high rate (59.5%) of a positive family history of β-TM. Patients transfused on low pretransfusion hemoglobin levels around 8 g/dL, and those receiving blood transfusion before the establishment of National Blood Transfusion Services showed a statistically significant higher rate of positive hepatitis B and C viral infections. Chelation therapy tended to start at late age, mean age was around 4 years. Before 2000, subcutaneous deferoxamine was the most widely used chelation, and since then a considerable number of patients (50%) had started to use oral iron chelators.


The strong cultural preferences for consanguineous marriage and limited preventive programmes and resources have had a negative impact on the management of Egyptians thalassemic patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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