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What you should know about sickle cell trait
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    National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Division of Blood Disorders. ; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.) ; American Society of Hematology. ; ... More ▼
  • Description:
    What is sickle cell trait? -- What is sickle cell disease? -- Who is affected by sickle cell trait? -- What health problems are commonly found with sickle cell trait?

    Sickle cell trait (SCT) is not a mild form of sickle cell disease. Having SCT simply means that a person carries a single gene for sickle cell disease (SCD) and can pass this gene along to their children. People with SCT usually do not have any of the symptoms of SCD and live a normal life.

    Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and it gives blood its color. It carries oxygen to all parts of the body. Hemoglobin is made from two similar proteins, one called alpha-globin and one called beta-globin, that “stick together.” Both proteins must be present and function normally for the hemoglobin to carry out its job in the body. People with SCT have red blood cells that have normal hemoglobin and abnormal hemoglobin.

    Genes are the instructions that control how red blood cells make alpha- and beta-globin proteins. All people have two genes for making beta-globin. They get one beta-globin gene from each parent. SCT occurs when a person inherits a gene for sickle beta- globin from one parent and a gene for normal beta-globin from the other parent. This means the person won’t have sickle cell disease, but will be a trait “carrier” and can pass it on to their children.


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