How do I find out if I’m a carrier of sickle cell?
You will need to have a blood test to find out if you carry the sickle cell gene, ideally before or during pregnancy. If you belong to one of the ethnic populations which has a higher incidence of sickle cell, you will likely be offered the test. If you are not offered the test and you would like to be tested, ask your doctor or midwife for it.
If you are found to be a carrier of the sickle cell gene, then your partner will need to be tested as well.
How do I find out if my unborn baby has sickle cell?
There are three ways of finding out if your unborn baby has sickle cell:
It’s up to you whether you have your baby tested during pregnancy. It can be a hard decision, because, unfortunately, these tests do carry some risk of miscarriage. Your doctor should clearly explain the risks and benefits of the test to help you make your choice.
If your baby isn’t tested during pregnancy it can be picked up after she’s born. Your baby can have a blood test shortly after her birth. Your midwife will prick your baby’s heel and take a tiny amount of blood to be tested for sickle cell and other conditions. This test is not offered as part of newborn screening in most provinces. However, it is possible get a Sickle Cell test on a person of any age, if there is reason to be concerned, and should be done in any baby from a high risk ethnic group.
Finding out your baby has Sickle Cell Disease can come as a shock. You may feel frightened and that you don't know what to expect. You may feel responsible for your baby's condition.
It's perfectly natural to have these feelings, but the reality is that neither you nor your baby's dad is to blame. The important thing is that you'll have plenty of expert support to help you and your baby as she grows
How do babies get sickle cell disease?
How do babies get sickle cell disease?For your baby to have it, both you and her dad must carry the abnormal hemoglobin gene responsible for sickle cell. This means you may have sickle cell disease yourself, or it may mean you are just a carrier. If you’re a carrier of the sickle cell gene, you won’t show any signs or have any symptoms.
The diagram above shows that there is a one in four chance of a baby having sickle cell if both parents are carriers. But that does not mean that one in four of those parents’ babies will definitely have sickle cell.
The chance of having a boy or girl are about one in two. But we all know families that have all boys or all girls. The same thing happens with inherited conditions, so one family may have more than one baby with sickle cell, or none with the disease.
Mortality in patients with sickle cell disease peaks between 1 and
3 years of age, chiefly due to sepsis caused by Streptococcus
Mortality in sickle cell
disease peaks at
1-3 years of age,
chiefly due to
pneumoniae, estimated to occur in a frequency of 8 episodes per
100 person-years of observation in affected children under 3 years of
After infancy, patients with sickle cell disease are usually anemic
and may experience painful crises and other complications, including
acute chest syndrome, strokes, splenic and renal dysfunction, bone and
joint symptoms, priapism, ischemic ulcers, cholecystitis and hepatic
dysfunction associated with cholelithiasis