Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"What causes sickle cell disease in children?"
How can my daughter manager her illness without feeling like an outsider?
Sickle cell disease results from a mutation in the gene that is responsible for the protein hemoglobin, which is found in all red blood cells and is responsible for the carrying of oxygen. The disease is autosomal recessive, meaning that a child must inherit the sickle cell mutation from both parents in order to have the disease. The mutation in the gene causes one amino acid (the building block of proteins) to be substituted for another. This causes the hemoglobin to take a different shape than it does normally, and this causes the red blood cells to become distorted and shaped like crescents or sickles (normally the cells are round). When the red blood cells become sickle-shaped, they can become clogged in the small blood vessels going to all different organs, causing problems by preventing lack of oxygen delivery. Your daughter has a disease that is very common in the United States and worldwide. Her pediatrician or hematologist should be able to refer her to support groups or camps that are comprised of other children with sickle cell disease. If you have questions about the specific treatment of your child's sickle cell disease then you should discuss them with your child's doctors.
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