September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month
National Sickle Cell Awareness Month
National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

September is sickle cell disease (SCD) awareness month in which sickle cell disease affects people of many racial and ethnic groups. In the United States, 90,000 to 100,000 people―mainly Blacks or African Americans―have SCD. The disease occurs among about 1 of every 500 Black or African-American births and among about 1 out of every 36,000 Hispanic-American births. Other people affected include those of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian origin. In addition, more than 2 million people carry the sickle cell gene that allows them potentially to pass the disease on to their children.

Among those with SCD, their red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a "sickle". The sickle-shaped cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. When a person doesn't have enough red blood cells, they have a condition called anemia. Also, when these misshaped blood cells travel through small blood vessels, they can get stuck and clog the blood flow. Whenever this happens, it results in severe pain and organ damage and can cause serious infections.

People with SCD can live productive lives and enjoy most of the activities that people without SCD do. These are some things that people with SCD can do to stay as healthy as possible:

  • Get regular checkups.Regular health checkups with a primary care doctor can help prevent some serious problems.
  • Prevent infections.Common illnesses, like influenza quickly can become dangerous for a child with SCD. The best defense is to take simple steps to help prevent infections.
  • Learn healthy habits. People with SCD should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day and eat healthy food. They also should try not to get too hot, too cold, or too tired.
  • Look for clinical studies. New clinical research studies are happening all the time to find better treatments and, hopefully, a cure for SCD. People who take part in these studies might have access to new medicines and treatments.
  • Get support.People with SCD shouldfind a patient support group or other organization in the community that can provide information, assistance, and support.