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patient education

Nutrition for the Child with Sickle Cell Anemia

key information

source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

year: 2018

authors: Marisa Moore


Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), also called Sickle Cell Anemia, is a genetic red blood cell disorder that causes blood cells to take on a sickle or crescent shape. In the U.S., SCD is most common among African Americans and Hispanic Americans. People with SCD often experience episodes of pain, fatigue and frequent infections. SCD is associated with low calcium intake, vitamin D deficiency and poor appetite. All of these can lead to delayed growth and development in children.

If your child gets enough calcium, keep up the good work! However, calcium alone is not enough. Calcium is effective at building strong bones only if your child also gets enough vitamin D. Emory University Associate Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Ify Osunkwo explains, “Many sickle cell disease patients are vitamin D deficient due to their darker skin, lack of dairy intake and limited sun exposure. If they drink milk, are out in the sun and open to eating dairy, they tend to fare better.”

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