Sickle Cell Anemia

By: Jadi Koep

Definition:

Sickle Cell Anemia is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. The red blood cells in your vein mutate to form a sickle shape which also causes abnormal hemoglobin.

Who is most affected/what causes it/risk factors?

African Americans are most affected by SCA. The problem in hemoglobin S is caused by a small defect in the gene that directs the production of the beta globin part of hemoglobin changes the way that hemoglobin works.

This disease comes down to the genetics if both parents carry the trait then the child will get sickle cell. People living in Africa, India, Mediterranean countries, Saudia Arabia and other countries in that region are the most at risk for getting this disease. This disease also reduces your life expectancy by at least 30 years.

Can it be prevented/is it inherited/environmental impact

Prevention: If you're planning to get pregnant ask your doctor to do blood test to test for this trait in order to prevent your child from getting this disease. Two genes for sickle cell must be inherited from both parents in order to get the disease. The environmental factors include climate, air quality and socio-economics.

Symptoms include:

Painful swelling of hands and feet

Fatigue or fussiness from anemia

Yellowish color of skin (jaundice)

Delayed growth and frequent infections

Treatment/medical complications

Bone marrow transplants offers the only potential cure for Sickle Cell Anemia. Antibiotics and pain relieving medication can also be used for treatment.

Medical complications include:

Stroke

Acute Chest Syndrome

Organ damage

Pulmonary hypertension

Is quality of life affected?

In some cases this disease does lead to death, but it others it will only make life more difficult. It delays your sexual maturity and stunts your growth. You will always have to seek medical attention and schedule routine check ups.

Where can parents gain further information?

The NIH website has links to many different articles on how to live with Sickle Cell Anemia, how to prevent it, how to take care of a child with this disease and so much more. You can also consult with your doctor or other medical personnel.