Hong Kong Med J 2002;8:255-60 | Number 4, August 2002
Morbidity and mortality patterns of thalassaemia major patients in Hong Kong: retrospective study
CK Li, CW Luk, SC Ling, KW Chik, HL Yuen, CK Li, MMK Shing, KO Chang, PMP Yuen
Department of Paediatrics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVES. To study the morbidity and mortality patterns of transfusion-dependent thalassaemia major patients in Hong Kong, and compare the outcomes of these patients according to different periods of birth.
DESIGN. Retrospective study.
SETTING. Paediatric departments of three regional hospitals, Hong Kong.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Medical records of thalassaemia major patients were reviewed. Data gathered included demographic and survival data, complications of iron overload, repeated transfusion, and bone marrow transplantation; the probability of survival of three cohorts was also estimated.
RESULTS. Two hundred and thirty-two patients were studied at a median age of 15.5 years (range, 1.4-30.3 years). There were 60 patients born before 1980 (cohort 1), 117 patients born between 1980 and 1989 (cohort 2), and 55 patients born after 1989 (cohort 3). The median age of starting desferrioxamine was 8 years, 4 years, and 3 years for cohorts 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Cardiomyopathy, diabetes mellitus, and hypothyroidism occurred in 15.1%, 8.6%, and 6.9% of patients with thalassaemia major, respectively. The above complications developed in 5% to 12% of cohort 2 patients. Delayed puberty was present in 38.4% and hormonal replacement for gonadal failure was required in 29.7% of evaluable patients. Short stature was common and the median height standard deviation score was -1.63. Twenty patients had died, and cardiomyopathy was the leading cause of death, followed by complications of bone marrow transplantation. The probability of survival beyond the age of 20 years was 87.6%.
CONCLUSION. Despite the use of iron chelation in the past two decades, severe complications of iron overload still occurred even in those who started chelation therapy early. Cardiomyopathy was the leading cause of death, while endocrinopathies and short stature were common complications especially in teenagers and adults.
Key words: Beta-thalassemia; Morbidity; Mortality
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