Sickle Cell Disease | Causes & Risk Factors

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How do people get sickle cell disease?

The type of hemoglobin a person makes depends on what traits are inherited from his or her parents, much like hair or eye color is passed on. To get the hemoglobins that causes sickle cell disease, a child must inherit a sickle cell gene from both parents.

A child who inherits 1 normal gene from a parent and 1 sickle cell gene from the other is a "carrier."

A child born to one parent with the trait has a 50% chance of carrying the sickle cell trait and a 0% chance of having sickle cell disease.  A child born to parents who both have the sickle cell trait (but not the disease) has a 50% chance of having the sickle cell trait and a 25% chance of getting the sickle cell disease.  A child born to one parent with the disease and one parent who has the trait has a 50% chance of having sickle cell disease or the sickle cell trait.

Who gets sickle cell disease?

In the United States, sickle cell disease is most common in people who came from, or whose ancestors came from, Africa, Central America (especially Panama), South America, Caribbean nations, Mediterranean countries, India or Near Eastern countries.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/11
Created: 09/90

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