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Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common inherited blood disorder among Americans, affecting approximately 100,000 people in the country. Although mortality rates have vastly improved since a vaccine was introduced in 2000, the costs of managing the disease remain high. We've got some facts about sickle cell disease below!
SCD represents a group of disorders that affect hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen through the body. Typically these cells are round and flexible, allowing them to move freely through the body; with sickle-cell disease, they stiffen and become shaped like a crescent or sickle. This causes the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to anemia, a reduction in oxygen flow through the body that leads to shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children.
Sickle cell disease can also cause the following conditions:
Other complications can include stroke, acute chest syndrome, priapism, blindness, and bone damage.
Sickle cell disease is much more common in people whose ancestors come from Africa, Mediterranean nations, the Arabian Peninsula, India, the Caribbean, or Spanish-speaking South American countries.. The sickle cell trait is inherited from one parent, but sickle cell disease is inherited from both:
Since a vaccine against invasive pneumococcal disease was introduced in 2000, sickle cell-related death among Black or African-American children younger than 4 years of age fell by 42%. This is promising, but the medical costs associated with the disease are high, and access to health care for it is not always guaranteed:
To learn more about sickle cell disease and the stories of those who have it, the CDC has resources available for World Sickle Cell Day!
For ideas on how to celebrate World Sickle Cell Day, check out this PDF guide from Shine a Light on Sickle Cell!