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Sickle Cell Disease and Cold Weather: Dos and Don’ts

In the United States today, one of every 400 African-American children and one in every 1,250 Hispanic children are born with sickle cell disease, a debilitating, painful condition. Patients with sickle cell disease suffer from abnormally shaped, rigid and adhesive red blood cells. These abnormal cells “close off” blood vessels and cause recurring, painful episodes called “sickle cell crises.” An individual with sickle cell disease can develop a crisis at any time – the pain can last for days or even weeks and is frequently severe enough to require hospitalization.

These painful events associated with SCD can be more severe and occur more frequently in cold weather.