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A rapid and inexpensive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based strategy is described which detects the three common, severe alpha thalassaemia determinants observed in southeast Asia (--SEA) and the Mediterranean (--MED and -(alpha)20.5). Oligonucleotide primers have been chosen which allow specific identification of both normal (alpha alpha) and abnormal (--) chromosomes using identical conditions in either the same or parallel PCR reactions. This strategy should be useful in the development of screening programmes to identify carriers of alpha thalassaemia (--/alpha alpha) and prenatal diagnosis of the Hb Bart's hydrops fetalis syndrome (--/--) for those populations in which this represents a major cause of perinatal death.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of haematology

Publication Date





104 - 108


Department of Anatomy, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


Humans, Fetal Diseases, Hydrops Fetalis, Thalassemia, DNA, Oligonucleotides, Prenatal Diagnosis, Mass Screening, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Base Sequence, Molecular Sequence Data