Sickle Cell Trait: A Benign State?

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Abstract

Background:

Sickle cell trait (SCT) is the heterozygous form of sickle cell disease and expectedly should be a benign state with no complications ascribed to it. There are numerous reports challenging its being a benign condition, though this is controversial.

Methods and Results:

A review of the results of the accompanying investigations done on some of the patients show that beta thalassemia may be responsible for many of the ascribed symptoms and complications. These patients may therefore have sickle cell beta thalassemia, a compound heterozygous form of sickle cell disease.

Conclusion:

It is important to screen for beta thalassemia using red cell indices and quantitation of the different hemoglobin fractions before attributing any symptoms to SCT. DNA analysis, though useful in ascertaining the presence of the sickle cell gene, is not sufficient. There is the need to exclude the presence of mutations for beta thalassemia, which often is geographical region-specific.

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