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It’s National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

  • healthcare babyDid you know that one out of every 375 African American infants is born with sickle cell disease? It is also common in people whose families come from South or Central America (especially Panama), the Caribbean, India, Saudi Arabia and the Mediterranean (Turkey, Greece, Italy). Although it is more common in these groups, sickle cell disease can be in anyone’s family – and you can’t tell that someone has it just by looking at them.

    The month of September is dedicated to raising awareness about sickle cell disease.   

    Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood condition that causes red blood cells, which are normally shaped like a doughnut without a hole, to be crescent or sickle shaped. These sickle-shaped cells don’t last as long as normal blood cells, resulting in lower numbers of red blood cells than normal (anemia). The shape of these cells also makes it difficult for them to pass through small blood vessels; they can clog vessels, reduce blood flow and cause tissue damage. The combination of anemia, clogged vessels and reduced blood flow can cause severe pain and fatigue, as well as tissue and organ damage.  Treatments such as pain medicine and blood transfusions can help treat the symptoms, but more work needs to be done to help people with this condition. All state newborn screening programs screen for sickle cell disease and can connect families to resources.

    Throughout this month, fundraisers and community education programs will address key issues for families and those living with sickle cell disease at the national and local level. These events will help improve our understanding of sickle cell anemia, as well as accelerate the development of treatment options and care. For more information about sickle cell anemia you can refer to our sickle cell anemia page. To find Sickle Cell Awareness Month events near you, visit the American Sickle Cell Association or the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

    Has sickle cell disease affected you or someone you know? Leave a comment and share your story.

    Stacy has three children with sickle cell anemia. Watch their story.

    References:
    American Sickle Cell Association
    The Children’s Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    The Southeast Newborn Screening & Genetics Regional Collaborative
    Your Genes Your Health

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