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
One in tenAfrican-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