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Sickle cell & pregnancy


Sickle cell disease often becomes more severe – and pain episodes more frequent – during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. A pregnant woman with sickle cell disease is more likely to have a miscarriage, still birth, preterm labor, or a low-birth-weight baby and sickle cell pregnancies are almost always considered high risk.

Ideally, women with sickle cell disease should receive preconception counseling. This is because with early prenatal care and careful monitoring, women with sickle cell disease can have a healthy pregnancy and successful delivery. Women with sickle cell are more prone to pain episodes during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester.

Pregnancy creates intense demands on a woman’s body, and the normal physiologic changes of pregnancy – and common complications like anemia – can easily make the sickling of red blood cells worse. If blood vessels become blocked by sickled cells, body tissues may be deprived of oxygen and die.


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