Mediterranean anemia is a specific, genetically-determined type of thalassemia according to Mayo Clinic. Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes the body to have less hemoglobin and fewer red blood cells than a person without this disorder.
Mediterranean anemia's name refers to the high frequency of this genotype in people of Greek and Italian origin, according to MedicineNet. Another name for Mediterranean anemia is thalassemia major. The gene that causes this condition offers protection against malaria. As such, it became prominent in Italy and Greece as these countries were once plagued by malaria. The inheritance pattern of this gene is an autosomal recessive pattern.