Sickle Cell Disease
Monday, March 23, 2009

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder affecting about 72,000 people in the United States.  It is most common in people of African descent.  Dr. Edward Hill discusses this disorder in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Sickle cell disease is a blood disease that children inherit from their parents. The disease causes the red blood cells to make abnormal hemoglobin, which is the part of blood that carries oxygen in the body.

To get sickle cell disease, a child has to inherit the sickle hemoglobin gene from one parent and a sickle gene or another abnormal hemoglobin gene from the other parent.

People with sickle cell trait only have one gene that is abnormal.  They often have no medical problems at all. The danger comes when two people with the single gene sickle cell trait have a child.

For people with the full sickle cell anemia, they may develop pain crises when the abnormal blood cells clog the small arteries and inadequate oxygen is delivered to the tissues.  They are at risk for developing infections, especially pneumonia.

Treatment for sickle cell anemia includes medications, blood transfusions and specific treatment for complications.

Genetic screening of parents and the newborn is very important for prevention and early recognition.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.