Newborn screening: Families need to be education about sickle cell trait

Physician’s Briefing recently posted an article advocating for primary care providers to start offering more information to parents about their child’s sickle cell status. In a report from Jelili Ojodu, M.P.H., and colleagues of the Association of Public Health Laboratories in Silver Spring, Md, the 2010 estimated incidence of sickle cell trait at 15.5 cases per 1000 births ranging from .8 cases in Montana to 34.1/1000 cases in Mississippi Area. Blacks had the highest incidence of sickle cell trait with 73.1 cases per 1000 births, whereas sickle cell trait occurred only 3 of every 1000 white births. Among Hispanics, the incidence was 6.9 per 1000 births. Although the incidence is not very high in other racial/ethnic groups as compared to blacks who carry a 1/10 risk of having sickle cell trait, given the high morbidity and mortality associated with sickle cell disease, reviewing a newborns status and education families about sickle cell trait should be part of routine neonatal care. When a newborn is identified as carrying sickle cell trait, there should be well established protocols for the primary care provider or genetic counselor to begin educating the families about the potential health complications and implications for family planning that come with carrying a genetic mutation that can lead to sickle cell disease.

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