Generally, thalassemias are prevalent in populations that evolved in humid climates where malaria was endemic. It affects all races, as thalassemias protected these people from malaria due to the blood cells' easy degradation. Thalassemias are particularly associated with people of Mediterranean origin, Arabs, and Asians. The Maldives has the highest incidence of Thalassemia in the world with a
carrier rate of 18% of the population. The estimated prevalence is 16% in people from Cyprus, 1% in Thailand, and 3-8% in populations from Bangladesh, China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan. There are also prevalences in descendants of people from Latin America and Mediterranean countries (e.g. Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and others). A very low prevalence has been reported from people in Northern Europe (0.1%) and Africa (0.9%), with those in North Africa having the highest prevalence. Ancient Egyptians suffered from Thalassemia with as many as 40% of studied predynastic and dynastic mummies with the genetic defect. Today, it is particularly common in populations of indigenous ethnic minorities of Upper Egypt such as the Beja, Hadendoa, Saiddi and also peoples of the Delta, Red Sea Hill Region and especially amongst the Siwans.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011