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Sickle Cell Disease:
A genetic blood disorder

Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA) is an inherited disease of the redblood cells. It is characterized bypainful episodes, lower resistance to infections, organ damage, anemia, jointdegeneration, strokes, and other health problems. SCA occurswhen a child inherits a hemoglobin gene that sickles from both parents. In this case, the child is born with thedisease.

Sickle CellTrait (SCT) occurs when a child inherits a normal heamoglobin gene and a sicklegene. This results in a carrier of thesickle cell gene. SCT is harmless. The concern about the trait is that thisabnormal gene can be passed to a child. If a person, who is a carrier of the gene is impregnated by anothercarrier of the gene, impregnated by another carrier of the gene, one out offour children will have the disease.

Signs of the disease begin in childhood. Symptoms occur at the age of one or twoyears. Jaundice occurs and the child becomes pale because of low bloodcount. The child will tire easily, eatpoorly, and complain of pain. Symptomsof the disease become severe when there is a “crisis.” A crisis occurs when the blood count is verylow. This may be precipitated by acold, or when oxygen to the blood is deprived.

One in ten African-American carries this trait. One in 400 has sickle cell disease. One in 25 Hispanics carry the genetic trait and one in 1,000 has thedisease. The disease/trait is foundamong people whose ancestors came from Africa, Greece, Italy, Arabia, India,Asia and the Caribbeaan.

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