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patient education

Sickle Cell Disease: Information for Parents

key information

source: American Academy of Pediatrics


Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder of the red blood cells. There are several different types of sickle cell disease.

Normal red blood cells are shaped like disks and can move normally through the blood vessels. In sickle cell disease, the iron-rich protein called hemoglobin forms strands inside the blood cells. These strands cause the cell to be sickle (U-shaped). Sickle cells cannot move normally through the blood vessels, because they are stiff and sticky. They block blood flow in the blood vessels, keeping blood and oxygen from reaching the tissues.

Blocked blood flow causes pain that might last hours or days. It can also damage many major organs in the body. Children, especially young children, with sickle cell disease are also at higher risk of serious infection.

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