Sickle cell anemia is one of a group of inherited disorders known as sickle cell disease. It affects the shape of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body. The red blood cell carries oxygen throughout the body and when this is defected, it can lead to some serious complications.
There are many types of sickle cell but we will only mention the most important and common ones.
- SS: People who have this form inherit two genes, one from each parent, that code for hemoglobin S. Hemoglobin S is an abnormal form of hemoglobin that causes the red cells to become rigid, and sickle shaped. This is commonly called sickle cell anemia and is usually the most severe form of the disease.
- SC: inherit a hemoglobin “S” gene from one parent and a gene for a different type of abnormal hemoglobin called C from the other parent. This is usually a milder form.
Sickle cell disease affects millions of people worldwide. It is most common among people whose ancestors come from Africa; Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Turkey, and Italy etc. The disease is estimated to occur in 1 in 500 African Americans and 1 in 1,000 to 1,400 Hispanic Americans.
Symptoms of Sickle Cell:
- painful episodes called sickle cell crises, which can be very severe and last up to a week
- High risk of infections.
- Anemia (low hemoglobin or and erythrocytes).
- Some people also experience other problems, such as delayed growth, strokes and lung problems.
Sickle cell occurs when both parents have the defected Hemoglobin S gene. It doesn’t mean that all children will be Sickled but if both parents have Hemoglobin S gene then theres 1/4 chance of each child having Sickle cell. This is 25% chance of getting sickled child.
It is advised to get screening before having a child or getting married. It helps save children from getting this disease and living a better life.