Alpha Thalassemia Testing
Is there a test for thalassemia?
Blood tests and family genetic studies can show whether an individual has thalassemia or is a carrier. If both parents are carriers, they may want to consult with a genetic counselor for help in deciding whether to conceive or whether to have a fetus tested for thalassemia.
Prenatal testing can be done around the 11th week of pregnancy using chorionic villi sampling (CVS). This involves removing a tiny piece of the placenta. Or, the fetus can be tested with amniocentesis around the 16th week of pregnancy. In this procedure, a needle is used to take a sample of the fluid surrounding the baby for testing.
Assisted reproductive therapy is also an option for carriers who don't want to risk giving birth to a child with thalassemia. A new technique, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization, may enable parents who have thalassemia or carry the trait to give birth to healthy babies. Embryos created in-vitro are tested for the thalassemia gene before being implanted into the mother, allowing only healthy embryos to be selected.
SOURCE: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute