Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease that is present at birth. It affects hemoglobin, a protein necessary for red blood cells to carry fresh oxygen throughout the body. A baby with sickle cell anemia will usually develop symptoms within a few months, but some babies experience problems at birth.
An early diagnosis of fetal conditions, like sickle cell anemia, helps your doctor manage symptoms and complications. Dignity Health North State, and most other hospitals in the country, screen babies for the disease before they show symptoms. We offer comprehensive medical care for sickle cell anemia in Northern California at all our campuses, including:
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What Causes Sickle Cell Anemia?
Two copies of the sickle cell trait — a mutation in the gene for hemoglobin — are necessary for a baby to have sickle cell disease. Two parents who have the trait have a 25 percent chance of having a baby with sickle cell anemia with every pregnancy.
Sickle Cell Anemia Symptoms We Monitor at Dignity Health North State
Abnormal hemoglobin changes the shape of red blood cells such that they become lodged in blood vessels, causing painful blockages and complications. These cells also die sooner than normal cells, which decreases the number of cells and causes anemia.
Early signs of sickle cell disease in children include:
- Delayed growth
- Jaundice, which appears as yellowish skin and whites of the eyes
- Swollen hands and feet
- Unusual sleepiness from anemia
Other serious symptoms and complications we monitor throughout the disease include chronic pain and sudden severe pain, called a sickle cell crisis, infections, and vision problems.
Skilled Treatment of Sickle Cell Anemia in Northern California
Immediately after diagnosis, your doctor will sit down with your family to explain the condition, answer your questions, and discuss your treatment options. Our focus at Dignity Health North State is to relieve symptoms and minimize complications of sickle cell anemia in children as they grow into adults.
Common treatments include:
- Blood transfusions to treat anemia
- Immunizations to prevent infection, especially in children because they are more susceptible to infection
- Medications to relieve pain, control infections, and treat complications
A bone marrow transplant from a matched donor can successfully cure sickle cell anemia, but there are significant risks.
Talk to your doctor for more information about prevention, diagnosis, and personalized treatment of sickle cell anemia in Northern California.
Dignity Health North State offers a warm, welcoming environment and family-centered care for sickle cell anemia in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.