Sickle cell anaemia

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Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic blood disorder that is inherited from both parents. A child inherits one haemoglobin gene from each parent. There are normal haemoglobin genes and haemoglobin S genes, which carry the traits of sickle cell anaemia.
 
When a child gets a haemoglobin S gene from both parents, it results in sickle cell anaemia. If the child inherits only one haemoglobin S gene, they will not have the disorder, but will be a carrier and could pass it on to their children.
 
The red blood cells of a person with sickle cell anaemia are not round as they should be normally. They take on a crescent, or sickle shape and become stiff. As a result, the cells cannot properly travel through the body’s blood vessels and the organs are damaged due to the lack of oxygen that is provided by red blood cells.  The condition is painful and leads to severe anaemia because the sickle cells only live 10 to 20 days, where a healthy red blood cell with live around 120 days. The body cannot replace the dead blood cells fast enough, which causes the anaemia.
 
Sickle mostly affects people of African descent. In fact, many scientists believe that the sickle cell gene may have evolved and developed in tropical Africa because a person who has sickle cell is also protected against malaria. Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that lives in red blood cells. Since ancient times, the people of Africa have been afflicted with malaria.

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