Haemoglobin C Trait
What does it mean to carry haemoglobin C (AC)?
Haemoglobin C is an unusual haemoglobin. It is common among people who originate from West Africa: from 1% to 10% of different West African populations carry haemoglobin C, and 3-5% of African Caribbeans carry haemoglobin C. Haemoglobin C carriers are rarely found in other populations. Haemoglobin C and other abnormal haemoglobins are diagnosed by electrophoresis.
Haemoglobin disorders are recessively inherited. People who carry one gene for haemoglobin C (heterozygotes) are popularly called carriers of haemoglobin C, or said to be “AC”. “You carry haemoglobin C because you inherited it from one of your parents. Your children may inherit it from you in their turn. You will always carry it. No one can "catch" it from you, and it will never turn into a serious anaemia.
Can haemoglobin C cause any health problems for carriers?
Haemoglobin C carriers are as healthy as other people. They are no more likely to become ill than other people. They can do any kind of work they choose.
Why is it important to know you carry haemoglobin C?
Carriers can sometimes have a child with a serious inherited anaemia (a sickle cell disorder). This can happen only if your partner carries an unusual haemoglobin called sickle cell haemoglobin (AS). It is important to know about this risk, because you can avoid it.
If you have a partner and are thinking of having children, tell your partner that you carry haemoglobin C, and show him or her leaflet. Ask your partner to have a blood test for haemoglobin disorders. Give him or her the attached slip headed “request for haemoglobinopathy screen: partner of a known carrier”. He or she can take it to their family doctor (GP), to help explain why the blood test is needed.
If the test shows your partner is not a carrier, you have no risk of having a child with a serious inherited anaemia. If the test shows your partner is a carrier, you should go together to a specialist sickle cell counsellor, to find out more about your risk of having children with a sickle cell disorder. Your GP can arrange this.
Is there anything else you should do now?
If you have brothers or sisters, or if you already have children, they may also carry haemoglobin C. Encourage them to have a blood test. Give them one of the attached slips, headed “request for haemoglobinopathy screen: relative of a known carrier”. They should take it to their family doctor (GP), to help explain why they want the test. They should ask for “screening for haemoglobin disorders”. If one or more of your relatives is in fact a carrier, they should ensure that their partner has a test before they have children.”