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Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease

Key points about sickle cell disease

  • Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder characterized by defective hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the body).
  • Sickle cell (HbSS) is a genetic disease. A person will be born with sickle cell disease only if two HbS genes are inherited—one from the mother and one from the father.
  • Sickle cell disease primarily affects those of African descent and Hispanics of Caribbean ancestry, but the trait has also been found in those with Middle Eastern, Indian, Latin American, American Indian and Mediterranean heritage.
  • Symptoms may include anemia, pain crisis or sickle crisis, acute chest syndrome, splenic sequestration (pooling), stroke, jaundice and priapism.
  • Specific treatment for sickle cell disease and its complications will be determined by your child's doctor based on:
    • Your child's age, overall health and medical history
    • Extent of the disease
    • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
    • Expectations for the course of the disease


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is sickle cell disease?

What causes sickle cell disease?

Which children are at risk for sickle cell disease?

What are the symptoms of sickle cell disease?

How is sickle cell disease diagnosed?

What are the treatments for sickle cell disease?

What are the possible complications of sickle cell disease?

How can I help my child live with sickle cell disease?

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Sickle Cell Disease Treatment at Children's National Hospital

From dedicated pain clinics for older children to specialized infant sickle cell care, Children’s National delivers care and support to provide a sense of well-being and normalcy to children with sickle cell disease and their families. Discover more about the treatments we offer.

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150 Years Stronger Patient Story Demier

Transplant Lets Demier Be a Kid

Demier was born with sickle cell disease and received a stem cell transplant from Allistair Abraham, M.D., when he was 3. He is now fully recovered and able to do things he couldn't do before such as, playing football, running and swimming in the pool.

150 Years Stronger Patient Story Demier

Providers Who Treat Sickle Cell Disease

Departments that Treat Sickle Cell Disease

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Blood Disorders (Hematology)

From sickle cell disease to histiocyte disorders, Children's National delivers expert care for any blood disorder diagnosis.

Sickle Cell Pulmonary Clinic

Children's National has one the largest and most active pediatric sickle cell programs in the country.

Pediatric Pain Medicine

The Children's National Pediatric Pain Medicine Program is one of only a few in the country focused exclusively on managing pain for infants, children and teens. When children are unable to express their pain in words, our pediatric specialists have the unique insight to help.