About Sickle Cell in Children
Sickle Cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Normal red blood cells are round, like doughnuts, and they move through small blood tubes in the body to deliver oxygen. In sickle cell, red blood cells become hard, sticky
and shaped like the sickles used to cut wheat. When these hard pointed red cells go through the small blood vessals, they clog the flow and break apart. This can cause pain, damage, and a low blood count or anemia.
Complications can vary from person to person, depending on the type of sickle cell disease they have. Some people are relatively healthy and others are hospitalized frequently. Early diagnosis and treatment has lead to improvements in the management of sickle cell disease; most children born with this disorder grow up to live relatively healthy and productive lives.
Causes and Treatment
Sickle Cell disease is an inherited disorder. It is the most common genetic disorder in the United States. Over 70,000 Americans have sickle cell disease. Most states require the sickle cell test when babies are born. Because children with sickle
cell disease are at an increased risk of infection and other health complications, early diagnosis and treatment is very important. Immunizations and medications can help prevent infections, and medicines are available to help manage the pain. In addition to your primary care doctor, your child should receive regular care from a hematologist (blood specialist) or a sickle cell specialty clinic.
At CHKD, we have a comprehensive sickle cell program. The sickle cell team includes pediatric hematology physicians, a nurse practitioner who specializes in sickle
cell disease, two specially trained nurse coordinators, two clinical social workers, a chaplain, an educational specialist and a nutritionist. It is important to work closely with this team to ensure the very best treatment for your child.