In Utero Diagnosis and Management of a Fetus With Homozygous α-Thalassemia in the Second Trimester: A Case Report and Literature Review

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Abstract

Alpha thalassemia with the absence of 4 α-globin genes leads to fetal hydrops and fetal death from anemia. Historically considered a lethal condition, optimal in utero management of homozygous α-thalassemia is unclear. A fetus of Filipino descent at 26 weeks gestation presented with ultrasound evidence of anemia. Cordocentesis confirmed anemia and homozygous α-thalassemia (--SEA/--SEA). Intrauterine transfusion corrected anemia but fetal growth restriction and oligohydramnios persisted. Intrauterine exchange transfusion improved hemoglobin parameters, fetal growth, and oligohydramnios. The late preterm infant was delivered with classic limb reduction defects. Hemoglobin Bart's is nonfunctional for oxygen transport, and intrauterine exchange transfusion may be effective first-line therapy and further investigation is warranted.

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