Sickle Cell Anemia
Members of certain ethnic groups have many reasons to undergo DNA carrier testing for sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia is a painful and dangerous disease that currently affects more than 90,000 people in the world. The disorder causes the affected person’s body to destroy or break down a large number of red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen to various organs. The lack of oxygen from the limited number of red blood cells causes a heap of symptoms all over the person’s body. The disease got its name from the shape of an affected person’s red blood cells. They take on the shape of a sickle under the microscope.
The symptoms of the disease are excruciating, and they include symptoms such as shortness of breath, swollen hands or feet, pale skin, headaches and pain all over the person’s body. The symptoms of sickle cell anemia often cause hospitalization and the inability for the sufferer to perform work duties or interact with the family. Many people die from the disease.
Sickle cell anemia does not appear to have a defined medical cure. Therefore, sufferers can only receive medical care to manage it. Management programs include frequent screening for sickle-cell related conditions, resting, liquid increases, vitamin intake, painkillers, NSAIDs, blood transfusions and more. The objective is to try to prevent the onset of pain or at least minimize it when it comes.
A sickle cell carrier is a person who carries the gene for the disorder but does not exhibit symptoms of the disorder. The reason that such a person should undergo DNA carrier testing for sickle cell anemia is to protect his or her future offspring. Two carriers can produce a child with sickle cell if they have children. One in every four children born to carrier parents will have the disease.
The person should take a blood test at a lab before he or she moves forward and has a child. The individual can take a specific test for sickle cell or a panel that tests for a variety of mutations. The test results come back in a matter of days. The parties can then decide whether they would like to have children together, or if they would like to choose an alternative method to give birth. Methods such as IVF are available if the parents do not want to take the risks.
The best way to schedule a DNA carrier testing for sickle cell anemia is to contact the family physician and ask for a referral to the lab. Pregnant women or women who see a gynecologist regularly can ask their gynecologists for information. Insurance policies may cover the procedures. Typically, they cover a portion of the costs for lab testing. Some policies pay 100 percent for blood work. The interested persons should call the number on the back of the card and ask questions about testing for sickle cell anemia.