World Sickle Cell Day: Be Aware, Take Action
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) affects millions of adults and children around the
world. June 19th is World Sickle Cell Awareness Day and a great time to increase
public knowledge and raise awareness about this potentially fatal disease.
People are born with SCD. It is an inherited life-long disease that can run in
families. It is most common in people with ancestry in Africa, Central or South
America, Caribbean Islands, India, Saudi Arabia, and Mediterranean countries
like Turkey, Greece and Italy. According to the World Health Organization, SCD
is one of the main causes of premature death in children under five in various
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that SCD causes red blood
cells to change their shape from the usual donut shape to a C-shape, like the
farm tool called a "sickle." The sickle cells get caught on the walls of tiny
blood vessels, stick to one another and can't squeeze through the blood vessel.
This can form clumps inside blood vessels, blocking the flow of blood, which
causes severe pain and other serious problems.
It is important to know if you or a loved one has the sickle cell trait. If you
have children with another person that has the trait, there is an increased risk
of having a child born with sickle cell disease. Newborns in the U.S. are
using a few drops of blood from their heel for certain genetic, endocrine, and
metabolic disorders, including SCD. Parents should take babies that are not born
in a hospital or those that were not screened before leaving the hospital to be
checked within a few days of birth.
People with SCD are more at risk for harmful infections, so getting
immunizations on time is important. Common illnesses, like the flu, can be
dangerous for children with SCD. Pneumonia is a leading cause of death in
infants and young children with sickle cell disease.
Good quality medical care from doctors and nurses who know a lot about sickle
cell disease can help prevent serious problems. If you were not screened at
birth, talk with your health care provider. A simple blood screening can reveal
if you have the trait. There are many
<http://www.sicklecelldisease.org/index.cfm> online resources help you learn
about SCD and learn habits to stay healthy.
SOURCE: TRICARE News Release at
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