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patient education

Sickle cell disease and sickle cell carrier status

key information

source: Illinois Department of Public Health

authors: Bruce Rauner


Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder that affects red blood cells. Sickle cell disease affects more than 72,000 Americans, primarily those of African heritage, but also those of Arabian, Asian, Caribbean, Indian, Mediterranean, and South and Central American ancestry. Approximately one in ten African-Americans carries sickle cell trait.

It is important to identify people who are carriers of an abnormal hemoglobin so they will be aware of their risk of having children with sickle cell disease. If both parents are carriers of sickle cell trait or another hemoglobin change (like hemoglobin C), there is a 25% (or 1 in 4) chance that they will have a child with sickle cell disease. The couple also has a 25% chance of having a child with regular hemoglobin (AA) and a 50% chance of having a child with a hemoglobin trait like the parents.


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