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Children with sickle cell suffer more severe malaria

The sickle cell trait is known for its protective effect against developing malaria. But new research warns that children with sickle cell anaemia are more likely to die from severe malaria.
Researchers from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) found that children with sickle cell anaemia have a “considerably higher” mortality rate than non-sickle cell sufferers when hospitalised with malaria.

Their findings indicate that sickle cell disease, which affects the shape of a patient’s red blood cells, is very much a double-edged sword for children in Africa. Those with sickle cell trait (who carry one copy of the sickle cell gene) benefit from a protective effect against malaria. But those with full sickle cell anaemia (two copies of the sickle cell gene) not only suffer severe health problems, but also a “massively increased” risk of death if they do develop malaria.