Sickle Cell in Nigeria

Today is World Sickle cell day. Sickle cell was not talked about growing up in Nigeria, as people preferred to keep this diagnosis quiet. Nowadays, people are more open with discussing this condition that affects millions of people all over the world, Nigeria included. Many families in Nigeria carry the sickle cell trait so screening and education is very important.

WHAT IS SICKLE CELL DISEASE? This is a condition affecting the red blood cell. It is also called Sickle Cell Anemia.

WHAT IS SS? This is the genetic makeup of the cells we get from our parents. Normal cells are AA . If there is SS then the red cell is sickle shape instead of normal round. The sickle shape cannot function well, and so this condition causes chronic health problems, like bone pain, anemia, wound infections and vascular problems.

WHAT CAUSES SICKLE CELL? It is an inherited condition
If a couple has AS and AS, there is a one in 4 ( 25% ) chance in each pregnancy that a child born can be SS.
If SS and AS there is a one in two (50%) chance with each pregnancy that the child will be SS.
If AS and AA, the children will not get the condition
if SS and AA, the children will not get the condition

WHAT IS THE TEST FOR SICKLE CELL AND WHO SHOULD DO THIS TEST? This test is ordered by a doctor or nurse and can be done at a Laboratory in Nigeria. Ask for sickle cell genotype. Result will be AA means good or AS means carrier or trait or SS means sickler. AS which means carrier or trait is usually healthy.

IS THERE TREATMENT? There is medication for this condition to help reduce the complications as much as possible.
There are support groups for People living with sickle cell disease, It is important to know your healthcare team and how to navigate your care.

The Sickle cell foundation is a great resource for Nigerians http://www.sicklecellfoundation.com/

IS THERE A WAY TO PREVENT SICKLE CELL DISEASE? All couples should get screened before starting a relationship with plans for getting married or having children.

Reminder:
For the following couples listed below: There is no risk of a child with SS
AA and AA
AS and AA
AA and SS
AA and AS
SS and AA

For the couples listed below : There is a high risk of a child with SS. They will require preconception counseling.
If AS and AS, they must discuss with a genetic counselor or Hematologist.
If SS and SS, they must discuss with a genetic counselor or Hematologist.

A Hematologist is a specialist Doctor who has undergone additional medical training and treats conditions affecting the blood and lymphatic system.

Additional reading:

Where to find Sickle cell care in Nigeria.

Written by Dr. Ngozi Onuoha.
This site serves to provide information for Education. You should seek the attention of your Medical provider for any health matters.
Copyright 2016, Health4Naija LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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