A blood disorder effecting infants and young children

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes the body to produce less hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that helps to carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Some infants show signs of thalassemia at birth, while other children develop them over the first two years of life.


Determining the right treatment for your child

The treatment recommended for your child will depend on how severe the disorder is.

For many children with mild forms of thalassemia, no treatment is needed.

For moderate to severe thalassemia, treatments might include:

  • Blood transfusions from healthy donors to help get rid of anemia

  • Iron chelation therapy to remove excess iron from the body and prevent iron overload

  • Bone marrow transplant

Fighting pediatric cancer and blood disorders

At UW Health, we offer the most advanced treatment options. Our pediatric cancer and blood disorder experts are national research leaders. We test new therapies and continue to work on therapies for pediatric cancer and blood disorders. For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.

Search our pediatric clinical trials

Symptoms and diagnosis

Thalassemia signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of thalassemia can include:

  • Easily tired

  • Weakness

  • Pale or yellowish skin

  • Facial bone deformities

  • Slow growth

  • Abdominal swelling

  • Dark urine


Your child’s doctor will do a full physical exam and take a detailed medical history. They will also request a blood test to measure the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin.


Care for your child

Receiving care from the pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant program at American Family Children’s Hospital means you have access to the knowledge and skills of many medical and support specialists for your child’s complex health diagnosis like cancer.

  • American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
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Meet our team

An experienced team providing your child with the care they deserve

Your child’s care is our top priority and we understand the unique needs they have. Your child’s team will include:

  • Oncologists (cancer doctors)

  • Hematologists (blood disease doctors)

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Child Life specialists

  • Pain management specialists

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists

  • Radiologists and radiation technologists

  • Social workers

  • Surgeons

Our providers

Patient and support services

You’re never alone

There are services available at both American Family Children’s Hospital and in the community to help patients and their families through every step of their journey.

Child Life specialists help your child and family cope with any fears and anxieties, and the American Family Children's Hospital patient and family visitor guide features information about:

  • Health psychology

  • Hero beads

  • Hospital school

  • Positive Image Center

  • Spiritual care services

  • Tyler's Place (sibling child care)

Additional resources