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Haemoglobin E Carrier Patient Information

A blood test has shown that you carry haemoglobin E. Here is a brief explanation.

  • A carrier of haemoglobin E is a healthy person.
  • Carrying haemoglobin E will not weaken you physically or mentally.
  • You can eat what you want and do any kind of work you choose.
  • You do not need any medical treatment because you carry it.

Haemoglobin E is one of a range of variations in the blood that doctors call haemoglobin disorders¨. Haemoglobin is a component of the blood. It is red, and causes the blood to be red. The usual type of haemoglobin is called haemoglobin A.

You have both haemoglobin A and an unusual haemoglobin called haemoglobin E. Haemoglobin is contained in red blood cells. Because you carry haemoglobin E, you have slightly smaller red blood cells and more of them than other people. Carrying haemoglobin E is not an illness, and will never turn into an illness.

You will never lose it, and no one can "catch¨ it from you. You inherited haemoglobin E from one of your parents, and could pass it on to your children.

This is why you are called a "carrier¨ of haemoglobin E. Haemoglobin E is common among people who originate from Bangladesh, north-east India, Burma and South East Asia. It occurs occasionally among people of Turkish or Middle Eastern origin. It is rare in other populations.

A doctor who does not know you carry haemoglobin E could think you are short of iron because you have small red cells, and could prescribe iron medicines. In the long run, this could do you more harm than good.

Carriers of haemoglobin E need a special blood test (serum iron or serum ferritintest) to diagnose iron deficiency. You should take iron medicines only if this test shows you are short of iron.

It could be important for the health of your children. Sometimes a carrier of haemoglobin E has a child with a serious inherited anaemia. The risk is small, but it is important to know about it because you can avoid it. 

A person who carries haemoglobin E can only have a child with an inherited anaemia if their partner also carries a haemoglobin disorder.

Tell your partner that you carry haemoglobin E, and ask them to have a blood test for haemoglobin disorders. Ideally your partner should have the test before you start a pregnancy.

Their general practitioner (GP) can arrange it. If your partner does not carry a haemoglobin disorder, there is no risk that your baby could have a serious inherited anaemia.

Arrange to talk to your GP. Ask for an immediate appointment to discuss your situation with a local specialist. This is particularly important if you have already started a pregnancy. You can also contact the counselling service directly.

If you already have children, or you have brothers or sisters, they may also carry haemoglobin E. Encourage them to ask their GP for a blood test for haemoglobin disorders. You can ask the counselling service for more information about carrying haemoglobin E.

Information on counselling services for haemoglobin disorders can be obtained from:

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