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Fact Sheet: Sickle Cell Trait

key information

source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital


It is possible for a person of any race or nationality to have sickle cell trait, but it is very common in African-Americans. About one (1) out of every 12 African-Americans has sickle cell trait. It also affects Hispanics, and people whose ancestors came from Africa, Latin America, Asia, India, and the Mediterranean region.

Sickle cell trait affects the red blood cells.

All red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.

People with sickle cell trait have both normal hemoglobin A and abnormal hemoglobin S in their red blood cells.

People who do not have sickle cell trait or any other abnormal hemoglobin have red blood cells that contain only hemoglobin A.

People with sickle cell trait do not develop sickle cell disease.

People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin S. Under certain conditions these red blood cells become
sickle-shaped (banana-shaped) and block circulation.

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