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 the protein hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin). This iron-rich protein gives blood its red color and carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
In this country, it affects approximately 72,000 people, most of whose ancestors, come from Africa. The disease occurs in approximately 1 in every 500 African-American births and 1 in every 900 Hispanic American births. Approximately 2 million Americans, or 1 in 12 African Americans, and 1 in 16 Hispanic carry the sickle cell trait.
If the test shows the presence of sickle hemoglobin, a second blood test is performed to confirm the diagnosis. These tests also tell whether the child carries the sickle cell trait.
Chorionic Villus Sampling is also another prenatal test. Chorionic villus sampling or CVS is a test done during early pregnancy that can find certain genetic problems with the fetus. The test is commonly done when either you or the baby biology father has a disease that runs in the family. The test can be done as early as 10 to 12 weeks. You should consult with your physician for further information.
How can family and friends of someone with sickle cell anemia help them cope?Sickle cell patients and their families may need help in handling the economic and psychological stresses of coping with this serious chronic disease. Sickle cell centers and clinics can provide information and counseling on handling these problems. Parents should try to learn as much about the disease as possible so that they can recognize early signs of complications and seek early treatment.
With good health care, many people who have sickle cell anemia can live productive lives. They also can have reasonably good health much of the time and live longer today than in the past. Many people who have sickle cell anemia now live into their forties or fifties, or longer.
If you have sickle cell anemia, it’s important to:
Adopt or maintain a healthy lifestyle
Take steps to prevent and control complications
Learn ways to cope with pain