My parents are both from Mediterranean countries and I have been offered a ''haemoglobin electrophoresis'' test; what is this?

Haemoglobin is the constituent of red blood cells that carries oxygen. People from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Far East and certain Mediterranean countries notably Cyprus may carry a gene that causes faulty production of haemoglobin. This disease is called thalassaemia, and it can be passed on to the baby and may cause severe anaemia (shortage of red blood cells). If the ''electrophoresis test'' (a blood test that separates out distinct types of haemoglobin) shows that you carry a thalassaemia gene, then your partner will also be tested. If you both carry similar genes, then you may be offered prenatal diagnosis to determine whether the baby suffers from the full blown disease.
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