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  • Writer's pictureSickled not Broken

Sickle Cell Anemia Inheritance

Updated: Jun 9, 2019

Sickle Cell Anemia Inheritance

Red blood cells, the backbone of providing oxygen flow in the body, are essential in maintaining good health. Some people, however, have inherited a type of anemia that causes these red blood cells to malfunction due to their defective shape, consistency and lack of abundance. These features cause a premature death of the red blood cells and potentially the individual. The most prevalent symptom of sickle cell anemia is shortness of breath and fatigue. Treatment of sickle cell anemia begins with preventing the shape change of the cells, creating a crisis, and through blood transfusion and medication.

The inheritance of sickle cell anemia is a bit complicated. The gene, haemoglobin, is duplicated in each of the cells that are in the body. Each parent is responsible for his or her donation. Therefore, every mother and father gives one of these genes to each of the cells. When the sperm cell and the egg cell unite, you end up with two in each new cell. Because sickle cell anemia is a recessive condition, in order to develop, you will need to have two copies of this haemoglobin gene. This gene is also known as S or HbS.

The more common type of haemoglobin gene is referred to as A or HbA. Two of the types known as S will constitute sickle cell anemia. If only one gene in the form of the S type and one gene in the form of the A type is given by the parents you will only have the trait for sickle cell anemia. You will not have sickle cell anemia in the latter instance, but may endow your children with it.

If you are aware of this condition in your family prenatal care is essential in the instance of family planning. Your partner and you will be able to determine each of your haemoglobin genes and discover whether or not your unborn child may have sickle cell anemia before birth.

Below is a brief representation in the genetics involved in sickle cell anemia:

  • A parent with sickle cell trait and the other with sickle cell anemia will mean there is a 50% chance that your child will have a trait for sickle cell anemia and a 50% chance that he will have this disorder.

  • If one parent has the trait of sickle cell anemia and the other parent has no history of the disorder, none of the children that are born will be affected. However, there is a 50% chance of your child carrying the trait cell for the disorder. Their children may be affected due to this.

  • Lastly, if the two parents both carry the trait cell for sickle cell anemia there is a 25% chance their children will have sickle cell anemia, a 25% chance of that a child will not be affected and a 50% chance a child will have the sickle cell trait.

For further information regarding this disorder you should consult with your local Sickle Cell Disorder society.


Sickle Cell Disease Association of America

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: Facts About sickle Cell Trait

Genetics Home Reference: Sickle Cell Disease

Genetics The University of Utah: Sickle Cell Disease

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Sickle Cell Trait

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