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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
February 17, 2015

Sickle Cell Disease Screening Offers Educational Opportunity for Parents

JAMA. 2015;313(7):660. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.237

Up to 1.5% of infants born in the United States have sickle cell trait (SCT), the genetic marker that predisposes an individual to sickle cell disease (SCD), according to 2010 state data from mandatory SCD screening programs for newborns.

Although currently there is no standardized approach or even a requirement to communicate positive SCT results to physicians and families, providing genetic counseling after screening is an opportune time to educate parents about the health implications of SCT and SCD and guide them on future reproductive considerations. Data for SCD newborn screening in 2010 were available for 44 states, representing approximately 88% of the US population. The incidence of SCT in these states was 15.5 per 1000 newborns, or more than 60 000 cases in the United States overall that year, the researchers reported. Among black infants, SCT incidence was 73.1 cases per 1000 births and 6.9 cases per 1000 among Hispanic newborns. Incidence rates ranged from 0.8 per 1000 screened newborns in Montana to 34.1 per 1000 in Mississippi.