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guides & guidelines

Update: new guidelines for the treatment of infants with sickle cell disease. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research

key information

source: Paediatric Nursing

year: 1993

authors: Selekman J


These clinical practice guidelines set forth a comprehensive program for identifying, diagnosing, and treating newborns and infants with sickle cell disease and recommend education and counseling strategies for their parents. Sickle cell disease comprises a group of genetic disorders characterized by the production of hemoglobin S, anemia, and acute and chronic tissue damage secondary to the blockage of blood flow by abnormally shaped red cells. Sickle cell anemia is the most common form of the disease, and it affects approximately 1 in 375 African-American infants. Although in the United States sickle cell disease is most commonly found in persons of African ancestry, it also affects other populations. The panel recommends screening of all newborns for sickle cell disease, since targeting specific groups will miss some infected infants. Samples of dried blood on filter paper or liquid blood samples should be used for hemoglobinopathy screening. Hemoglobin electrophoresis, isoelectric focusing, and high performance liquid chromatography are acceptable, reliable, and accurate testing methods. Infants identified on initial screening must be retested to establish a definitive diagnosis. Affected infants must be given twice-daily oral penicillin beginning at 2 months of age to reduce pneumococcal, conjugated Haemophilus influenzae, and hepatitis B vaccines. Infants with sickle cell disease require the same well-child care as infants without the disease. Education and nondirective genetic counseling should be offered to all parents of infants with sickle cell disease. The guidelines stress the need for a comprehensive and fully integrated approach to reduce morbidity and mortality from sickle cell disease.

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