Hemoglobin C Disease

What is Hemoglobin C Disease?

Hemoglobin C disease (also called "CC" disease) is a condition found mostly in the African American population. Hemoglobin is the major part of the red blood cells; red blood cells (RBC's) make up part of the blood. Your child's RBC's contain an abnormal hemoglobin called hemoglobin C.

How Hemoglobin C Disease is Inherited?

Hemoglobin C disease is a hereditary or genetic condition that occurs in one out of 5,000 to 10,000 African American individuals. If a child has Hemoglobin C disease, both parents have hemoglobin C trait. Hemoglobin C trait occurs in 2-3% of all African Americans. Hemoglobin C trait is harmless - you do not have the disease - you are just a carrier of hemoglobin C.


diagram of 1 in 4 chance of inheriting Hemoglobin C disease


When both parents have C trait, each baby has a 1 in 4 chance of inheriting Hemoglobin C disease.

What Types Of Problems Can My Child Have?


Individuals with Hemoglobin C disease have a mild anemia (low blood count). This mild anemia usually does not cause any symptoms or problems.

In rare circumstance there may be a decrease in the blood count due to the increased destruction of the red blood cells. This may particularly occur during an infection. If in doubt, your doctor will check the blood count under such circumstances. 


As your child grows older and becomes an adult there is a small risk of developing gallstones in the gallbladder.

Your child may also develop an enlarged spleen or jaundice (yellowness in the white part of the eyes). Many people with Hemoglobin C disease have none of these problems.

Most individuals with Hemoglobin C disease are quite well. Iron and vitamins will not raise the blood counts. No other therapy, treatments or special precautions are necessary. Your child should be able to live a normal life even though he has his condition. Hemoglobin C is so mild that regular medical attention for the anemia is not necessary. It is a lifelong condition, so it is important that you are aware of its existence in your child.

Hemoglobin C Beta-Thalassemia

The information presented here also applies to a less common condition called Hemoglobin C Beta-thalassemia. There is also a mild anemia but no significant problems. Often blood tests on both parents are needed to tell if your child has Hemoglobin C Beta-thalassemia.