September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.
Sickle Cell Anemia is a blood disease prominent in African-Americans. Anemia itself means your blood is has a shortage of red blood cells. This disease affects the red blood cells which causes them to disfigure and become “sickle-shaped” like a crescent. The blood cells transform from soft and cushy to stiff and sticky. Normal red blood cells are round and shaped like doughnuts without the hole in the middle and are able to travel easily throughout our bodies. The sickle cells causes blockage preventing the blood from entering the blood vessels of limbs and organs which causes excruciating pain and damage to the organs.
Those diagnosed with sickle cell anemia require constant treatment to prevent the severe pains. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease. According to womenshealth.gov, 1 in 500 African-Americans are born with sickle cell disease, which has been genetically been passed down. This only says that the gene causing sickle cell anemia is passed down from parent to child. If only one sickle cell gene is present then you have the sickle cell “trait” and not the disease itself, but, the gene can be passed to your children.
You and your partner can get a simple blood test to see if either of you have the trait. If both of you have the trait, the chance that your child will have the sickle cell anemia is 1 in 4. In every state newborn babies receive a test for sickle cell anemia as apart of the newborn screening program.