What is the frequency of sickle cell anemia? and what is the population dynamics of the disease, that is what groups of people are most affected by it

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Sickle cell anemia is a condition that is inherited. The red blood cells cannot carry oxygen adequately. Red blood cells are round and when a person has sickle cell anemia the cells have an irregular shape-like crescent moons. They also become sticky and get stuck in blood vessels. People with sickle cell develop anemia because the sickled cells are susceptible to rupture.

Symptoms of sickle cell are of course anemia. There may also be episodes of pain called crises. This pain occurs because of blocked blood vessels. Swelling in hands and feet may also occur due to blockage of blood flow. Jaundice is another complication of sickle cell because the liver cannot keep up with the rapid breakdown of red blood cells.

Sickle cell anemia is usually diagnosed in infancy. For a baby to be born with sickle cell both parents must carry the gene. In the United States it most commonly affects African Americans and Hispanics.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control):

In the United States

  • SCD affects an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 Americans.
  • The disease occurs in about 1 out of every 500 African Americans births. 
  • The disease occurs in about 1 out of every 36,000 Hispanic Americans births.
  • Sickle cell trait occurs in about 1 in 12 African Americans.

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