What Is Sickle Cell Trait?
Sickle cell trait (SCT) is not a disease, but having it means that a person has inherited the sickle cell gene from one of his or her parents. People with SCT usually do not have any of the symptoms of sickle cell disease (SCD) and live a normal life.
What Is Sickle Cell Disease?
SCD is a genetic condition that is present at birth. In SCD, the red blood cells
become hard and sticky and look 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 problems. It is inherited when a child receives two sickle cell genes—one from each parent. A person with SCD can pass the disease or SCT on to his or her children.
How Does Someone Get Sickle Cell Trait?
People who have inherited one sickle cell gene and one normal gene have SCT. This means the person won’t have the disease, but will be a trait “carrier” and can pass it on to his or her children.
Who Is Affected By Sickle Cell Trait?
SCT affects 1 in 12 Blacks or African Americans in the United States.
•• SCT is most common among Blacks or African Americans, but can be found
among people whose ancestors come from sub-Saharan Africa; the Western
Hemisphere (South America, the Caribbean, and Central America); Saudi Arabia;
India; and Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
•• Approximately 3 million people living in the United States have SCT and many are unaware of their status.