Heart & Blood Conditions

Expert reports about Heart & Blood Conditions


INFORMATION FOR  WOMEN WHO HAVE SICKLE CELL TRAIT WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING

 

What is sickle cell trait and how does it differ from sickle cell disease?

Sickle cell trait (SCT) is a genetic condition involving the hemoglobin in red blood cells. People with SCT carry a defective copy of a gene for a section of the hemoglobin molecule called the beta chain, but the also carry a normal copy of the same gene. This makes them carriers for a very serious blood condition called sickle cell disease (SCD). Normally, people with SCT suffer no symptoms, but in recent years doctors, genetic counselors, and policy makers have been growing increasingly aware of complications that can result from SCT when the body is put under stress. Stressful environments that can put a person with SCT in danger include high altitude, dehydration, and intense sports, and there is concern that the physical stresses of pregnancy may also do the same. Though less common than SCT, SCD also can occur during pregnancy, because an increasing number of children with SCD are living to reproductive age.


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