WHAT IS SICKLE CELL DISEASE?

Sickle cell anemia is the most common form of sickle cell disease (SCD). SCD is a serious disorder in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. “Sickle-shaped” means that the red blood cells are shaped like a crescent. Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped and look like doughnuts without holes in the center. They move easily through your blood vessels. Red blood cells contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin. This protein carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Sickle cells contain abnormal hemoglobin called sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. Sickle hemoglobin causes the cells to develop a sickle, or crescent, shape. Sickle cells are stiff and sticky. They tend to block blood flow in the blood vessels of the limbs and organs. Blocked blood flow can cause pain and organ damage. It can also raise the risk for infection.

What is Sickle Cell Trait?

People who inherit one sickle cell gene and one normal gene have sickle cell trait(SCT). People with SCT usually do not have any of the symptoms of sickle cell disease (SCD), but they can pass the trait on to their children.

[Information from: “What Is Sickle Cell Trait?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Oct. 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/traits.html.]

How Sickle Cell Trait is Inherited

  • If both parents have SCT, there is a 50% (or 1 in 2) chance that any child of theirs also will have SCT, if the child inherits the sickle cell gene from one of the parents. Such children will not have symptoms of SCD, but they can pass SCT on to their children.

  • If both parents have SCT, there is a 25% (or 1 in 4) chance that any child of theirs will have SCD. There is the same 25% (or 1 in 4) chance that the child will not have SCD or SCT.

[Information from: “What Is Sickle Cell Trait?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Oct. 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/traits.html.]

©2019 by Sickle Cell Association of Houston, Inc.