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HEALTHIER YOU: Raising awareness for mothers during Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month

September 13, 2023 by  
Filed under Health

DR. ANNETTE MAYES

BY DR. ANNETTE MAYES, OB/GYN

September is Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Awareness Month. 

Many people within the Black community have this incurable disease, which is described as a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone with SCD, the hemoglobin is abnormal — causing the red blood cells to become hard and sticky and appear like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.” 

The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious complications (health problems) such as infection, acute chest syndrome, and stroke. 

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common monogenic blood disorders worldwide, with an incidence of over 300,000 newborns affected each year. Reproductive challenges for men and women with SCD have been studied, and evidence-based strategies to prevent infertility and increase fecundity are lacking in women with SCD — which is one of the most important factors for quality of life. 

Women who have sickle cell disease have a higher risk of certain pregnancy complications — including miscarriage, preterm delivery and having a low-birth-weight baby. High blood pressure and preeclampsia—a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by sudden onset of high blood pressure — also are more common in women with sickle cell disease. 

As far as childbirth is concerned, women with SCD are slightly more likely than other mothers to have a C-section. That’s mostly due to the increased rate of pregnancy complications in women with sickle cell disease. 

For more information, call Las Vegas All Women’s Care at (702) 522-9640. 

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