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Recognize Thalassemia, Blood Disorders that Parents Lowered

Thalassemia is a blood disorder caused by genetic factors. This disorder affects the normal functioning of the protein in red blood cells (hemoglobin). As a result, people with thalassemia have low hemoglobin and oxygen levels. If left without treatment, thalassemia can cause complications and disrupt the growth of the child.

There are Two Types of Thalassemia

The type of thalassemia that is affected depends on the number of gene mutations inherited by parents. The more mutated genes, the more severe thalassemia is affected. The following two types of thalassemia need to be known:

  • Alpha thalassemia occurs when there are four genes involved in making the alpha hemoglobin chain.
  • Beta thalassemia occurs if there are two genes involved in making the beta chain of hemoglobin.

Symptoms of Thalassemia Depend on Mutated Genes

If there is only a slight genetic mutation in hemoglobin, the symptoms are lighter. While if there are a lot of genetic mutations in hemoglobin, the symptoms will be more severe and require a blood transfusion. That is why children with minor thalassemia generally do not experience significant disruption and can grow well. However, children with thalassemia major will experience physical symptoms that interfere with their growth and development.

Symptoms of thalassemia usually appear at the age of 6 months, which is when the body has begun to form "adult" hemoglobin to replace hemoglobin while in the womb. Symptoms of thalassemia in children that can be observed in the form of growth disorders (such as low body weight), shortness of breath, enlarged abdomen, fatigue, and pale face, weakness, and appear yellow.

Thalassemia Cannot Be Cured

Diagnosis of thalassemia is done by a blood test to evaluate hemoglobin and measure iron contained in the blood. Blood tests can also analyze DNA to find out if parents have a hemoglobin gene that has a mutation. Pregnant women who have a history of thalassemia need to check the content during pregnancy, the aim is to find out whether the fetus has the thalassemia gene.

Thalassemia can be treated by cord blood transfusion and bone marrow transplant. Blood transfusion is needed, especially for people with beta thalassemia. Side effects of blood transfusion in the form of iron buildup in the body, but this condition can be overcome with chelation therapy by taking medication for life. This therapy is done to get rid of excess iron that accumulates through urine. During treatment, children with thalassemia need to be monitored in the form of:

  • Before blood transfusion, complete blood monitoring and liver function are carried out.
  • Every three months, growth monitoring is carried out (such as weight and height).
  • Every six months, monitoring of ferritin levels in the blood is carried out.
  • Every year, monitoring of growth and development of children is carried out, including nutritional status, and bodily functions.

Guide to maintaining balanced nutrition for thalassemia patients

1. Iron

Foods high in iron are considered the most appropriate choice to meet the nutritional needs of thalassemia patients. Iron helps the production of hemoglobin while also helping the production of red blood cells. However, the choice of food sources of iron for thalassemia must consider the quality of the type of iron itself.

In the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2016), it is explained that iron requirements for thalassemia are divided into two, namely non-heme and heme iron. People with thalassemia who do not undergo blood transfusions are advised to avoid iron-fortified food products, and avoid consuming too much red meat. To reduce iron absorption, tea can be consumed while eating. Folic acid supplements are also recommended in this group.

Meanwhile for people with thalassemia who must routinely blood transfusions and undergo iron, there is no need to undergo a low iron diet. In this case, a low iron diet is actually considered to reduce the quality of life of people with thalassemia.

When iron intake is avoided altogether, zinc intake will decrease. Though zinc is very important for the formation of immunity, maintaining bone health, and growth.

2. Zink

Zinc is a mineral that cannot be stored in the body, so we must meet its needs from daily food. Zinc intake can be obtained from red meat (beef, lamb, pork) and beans. But keep in mind: thalassemia patients who do not need a blood transfusion must limit meat intake.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D has the role of absorbing minerals in bone and tooth tissue, maintaining overall body resistance, and fighting various kinds of diseases that may arise due to a weakened immune system due to thalassemia. Vitamin D can also reduce system activity that controls your blood pressure.

Vitamin D is dubbed the "sunshine vitamin," because the body produces these nutrients when the skin is exposed to sunlight. People can also get vitamin D through foods such as eggs, milk, yogurt, tuna, salmon, cereals, beef liver, fish oil and orange juice.

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E has an antioxidant function, which is to protect cell damage due to free radicals, which are usually produced when the body is exposed to UV light, cigarette smoke, and pollution which are the main causes of various cancers.

Then, vitamin E has an immune function, which protects it from disease. Reported from Live Strong, this vitamin is good for elderly people and people with HIV / AIDS to increase immunity. This vitamin also plays a role in maintaining the health and function of various cells in the body. In addition, this vitamin helps balance vitamin K which functions to freeze blood.

A good source of vitamin E for thalassemia is a food product that contains healthy fats such as vegetable oil, avocados, dairy products, cereals, nuts, eggs and meat. Dairy products are the right choice of nutrition for people with thalassemia to reduce excessive iron absorption from food, but still provide benefits to the body as a source of calcium to strengthen bones.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a type of water soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the growth and repair of cells in the bones, teeth and skin. Vitamin C also protects your body from various infections because of the benefits of vitamin C which maintains the function of the immune system. In addition, vitamin C works as an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals. Foods high in vitamin C are vegetables and fruits, such as oranges, strawberries, papaya, and strawberries.

Vitamin C increases iron absorption which plays an important role in the functioning of your body. Iron helps make hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen. Vitamin C also helps in the production of red blood cells. But if you are not a group of thalassemia who needs a blood transfusion, do not consume food sources of vitamin C along with food sources of iron. This is to avoid excessive absorption of iron.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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