revised April 25, 1997

Iron and Thalassemia

Thalassemia and iron metabolism are closely linked. Iron deficiency and mild forms of thalassemia (e.g., thalassemia trait) are often confused. Both are associated with mild to moderate anemia and microcytosis (small red cells). At the other end of the spectrum, severe forms of thalassemia frequently produce iron overload. Excess iron accumulates due to enhanced iron absorption produced by thalassemia, repeated blood transfusions or both. A number of questions are frequently asked regarding thalassemia and iron.