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Many Children with Sickle Cell Anemia Not Receiving Lifesaving Screening and Treatment | CDC Online Newsroom

In 2019, lower than half of youngsters aged 2–16 years with sickle cell anemia acquired the really helpful screening for stroke, a typical complication of the illness, in keeping with a brand new CDC Very important Indicators report. As well as, many of those youngsters will not be receiving the really helpful treatment, hydroxyurea, which might cut back problems comparable to ache and acute chest syndrome. Hydroxyurea may enhance anemia and high quality of life.

Sickle cell anemia is probably the most extreme type of sickle cell illness, which is a pink blood cell dysfunction that primarily impacts Black and African American folks. It’s estimated that sickle cell illness impacts roughly 100,000 Individuals.

“We should take motion to make sure that youngsters with sickle cell anemia are receiving probably lifesaving therapy,” mentioned CDC Appearing Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H.  “The ache and problems these youngsters typically expertise may be excruciating and debilitating and might final for hours, days, and even weeks. Preventive care and medicines, comparable to hydroxyurea, can assist ease the ache and struggling these youngsters undergo, and will lengthen their lives.”


Knowledge from greater than 3,300 youngsters with sickle cell anemia constantly enrolled in Medicaid throughout 2019 have been analyzed on this report. The info got here from the IBM® MarketScan® Multi-State Medicaid Database.

Key findings

  • About half (47%) of youngsters aged 2–9 years and 38% of youngsters aged 10–16 years acquired transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound to evaluate their danger for stroke. Sickle cell anemia is a number one explanation for childhood stroke.
  • Solely 2 in 5 youngsters aged 2–9 years and about half of youngsters/teenagers aged 10–16 years with sickle cell anemia used hydroxyurea.
  • Each the stroke screening and hydroxyurea use have been highest amongst youngsters with excessive ranges of well being care use, in addition to these with proof of prior problems from their illness.

“Sickle cell anemia can shorten an individual’s life expectancy by greater than 20 years and might result in problems affecting all components of the physique. These problems are preventable—not inevitable. We should do extra to assist reduce the ache and problems related to this illness by rising the variety of youngsters who’re screened for stroke and utilizing the treatment that may assist cut back painful episodes,” mentioned Karen Remley, M.D., M.P.H., director, CDC’s Nationwide Heart on Beginning Defects and Developmental Disabilities.


Many individuals with sickle cell anemia report obstacles to receiving the really helpful screening and therapy. Structural racism is a type of obstacles. For instance, regardless of their in depth well being care wants, many individuals with sickle cell anemia should not have entry to suppliers with experience in treating the illness or report feeling stigmatized and having their signs dismissed once they do obtain care. Different obstacles embrace issues amongst mother and father and suppliers about potential unwanted effects and effectiveness of hydroxyurea.

A lot may be executed to assist youngsters with sickle cell anemia and their households:

  • Well being care suppliers can work to consolidate care by integrating screening right into a single, complete well being care go to for kids with sickle cell anemia.
  • Well being care establishments can develop formal reporting techniques to doc and reply to racist conduct and empower folks with sickle cell anemia to soundly report issues about prejudice or inequality.
  • Well being care suppliers can work with coverage makers and advocates to reverse the impression of years of structural racism on sickle cell anemia funding, analysis, and coverage selections.
  • Sufferers and their households can be taught in regards to the significance of getting an annual screening for stroke and discuss to their well being care supplier in regards to the outcomes of the screening and subsequent steps.
  • Neighborhood-based organizations and different companions can develop sources for each sufferers and well being care suppliers to enhance understanding of annual screening to forestall childhood stroke. They will additionally join sufferers and households with sources and instruments to assist them schedule screening appointments, assist tackle households’ transportation wants, and assist them discover monetary help if wanted.

For extra details about this report, go to www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.

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