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About Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that affects the red blood cells.  Healthy red blood cells are round and move through small blood vessels carrying oxygen to all parts of the body.  In SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”.  While normal red blood cells can live up to 120 days, sickle blood cells only live for about 10 to 20 days.  This causes a constant shortage of red blood cells.  The sickle cells can get stuck in small blood vessels and block the flow of blood and oxygen to organs in the body. These blockages cause repeated episodes of several pain, organ damage, serious infections, or even stroke. 

SCD is the most common genetic disease in the United States.  SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans. SCD occurs in 1 out of every 365 Black or African American births.  SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic American births.  Worldwide, approximately 300,000 infants are born with sickle cell anemia annually.  About 3000 people are living with sickle cell disease in the state of Mississippi. 


SCD is inherited in the same way that people get the color of their eyes, skin, and hair.  A person with sickle cell is born with it.  They inherit a sickle hemoglobin from each parent.  


People cannot catch SCD from being around a person with SCD.  

It is important to identify carriers of an abnormal hemoglobin so they will be aware of their risk of having children with sickle cell disease.  

If both parents are carriers of SCT, there is a 1 in 4 chance (25%) the child will have SCD, 1 in 4 chance (25%) the child will not have SCT or SCD and 1 in 2 chance (50%) the child will have SCT.

If only one parent has SCT and the other parent has a normal gene, the child will have 1 in 2 chance (50%) chance of having SCT or 1 in 2 chance (50%) that they will not have SCT (normal gene).  

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