September 9, 2021
In 2019, the Texas legislature designated September as Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month to shed light on this inherited blood disorder. September is also National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. As awareness grows, so does the ability to help jeans that have this disorder.
In Texas, approximately one in 2,000 newborns has sickle cell disease (SCD). SCD mainly affects black families, who account for nearly 85% of cases in Texas in recent years, an increase from 79% in previous years. Hispanics make up more than 5% and other ethnicities combined make up about 10%.
Approximately 6,000 babies with sickle cell traits (SCT) are born each year. This means they don’t have SCD, but they can still pass on the sickle cell gene to their future children.
If one parent has SCT and the other has SCD, the chances of a child being born with SCD increase.
SCD causes the body to produce red blood cells in the shape of a crescent or sickle. These cells have difficulty passing through small blood vessels and prevent the entry of normal red blood cells into the tissue. Parts of the body that do not receive normal blood flow end up being harmed. Complications may include anemia, vision loss, chronic pain, deep vein thrombosis, infection, pulmonary embolism, and stroke.
Symptoms of SCD usually appear when a baby is about 5 months old. Early diagnosis helps parents access their child’s information and specialized medical care.
In 1983, Texas began examining babies for SCD as part of the DSHS baby screening program. Blood samples are collected from a heel stick made 24 to 48 hours after birth and again at 1 or 2 weeks of age. Samples are sent to the DSHS lab for detection.
SCD gets worse over time. The evolution of treatments can reduce complications and improve a person’s life. These treatments include stem cell transplantation, gene therapy and new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Although modern medicine has come a long way, there are still many challenges facing people affected,” said Dr. Titilope Fasipe, a pediatric hematologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, a member of the screening advisory committee. of DSHS babies and person living with SCD. “However, knowledge of national guidelines for sickle cell disease can help control symptoms and, in some cases, prevent symptoms from ever occurring.”
For more information on SCD, visit the DSHS Sickle Cell Disease and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Disease Sickle Cell Disease websites.