The iron state was examined in two groups of pregnant women who were carriers of alpha and beta thalassaemia genes. In both groups the haematological expression of the disease--namely, haemoglobin and mean cell haemoglobin concentrations--was nearly identical. In patients with alpha thalassaemia the ferritin concentrations and percentage of ferritin deficiency was the same as in normal pregnant patients, whereas in those with beta thalassaemia the ferritin concentrations were usually much higher and iron deficiency four times less common. This variance appears to be explained by different degrees of extravascular or intravascular haemolysis between the two thalassaemias as assessed by the activities of serum alpha hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase.
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