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Asia Journal of Public Health : Volume 6 No. 2, December 2015. 51-57
doi: Vol.6 No.2

Thalassemia Carriers Rates Among Lahu Hill tribe Population, Thailand

Tawatchai Apidechkul* Weerayuth Siriratruengsuk* Prapapun Leckngam* Korakot Chansareewittaya*

ABSTRACT: Objective: A cross-sectional study aimed to investigate the prevalence of thalassemia carriers among Lahu hill tribe people in Chiang Rai Province. Materials and Methods: The study was carried out using two separate approaches. The first study analyzed retrospective data from antenatal clinics of four local hospitals where pregnant Lahu women attended between January 2011 and June 2012. The second study was prospective and included their husbands. During the second phase, 116 Lahu adults living in four representative Lahu villages completed a questionnaire and blood tests, i.e., the osmotic fragility test (OFT) and dichlorphenol indophenols precipitation test (DCIP). Those positive for either or both tests had their hemoglobin types identified by HPLC and PCR. Results: Of the 358 subjects that were recruited in the 1st phase, 43.8% were aged 21-30 years (13 to 46, mean=23.2, SD=6.83), 68.5% were of first gravidity. Fifty-eight subjects (17.6%) had abnormal MCV, 23.6% were positive for OFT, 5.0% were positive for DCIP, and 3.0% were positive for both OFT and DCIP. Eight of 83 husbands had abnormal MCV, 9.6% were positive for OFT and 2.6% were positive for DCIP. In the 2nd phase, 52.2% were females, 31.0% were aged 26-35 years (min=18, max= 68, mean=33.7, SD=11.2), 32.8% were positive for OFT , 8.6% were positive for DCIP, and 3.7% were positive for both. Hb typing showed 5 subjects (13.2%) with Hb E trait, 2.6% were beta-thalassemia trait, 2.6% were HbE homozygous, and no Alpha-thalassemia-1 (SEA) cases were identified. Conclusion: Provision of a proper thalassemia screening program in a health care setting in remote areas of Thailand is an ongoing need.
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* School of Health Science, Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai, Thailand*

Corresponding author, E-mail:
Accepted 28 October 2015