A baby with sickle cell trait carries the gene for sickle cell disease but does not have the disease. Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease that causes abnormal red blood cells. If a child inherits a sickle cell gene from both parents, the child has 2 genes and will have sickle cell anemia. If a baby inherits just 1 sickle cell gene, the baby has sickle cell trait but not the disease. Having sickle cell trait usually does not cause symptoms or other problems that occur with sickle cell disease.
Babies can be tested for sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease with a blood test. The blood test is one of the newborn screening tests done within a few days after birth.
If your child has sickle cell trait, you and the baby’s father may want to be tested to see if just one or both of you has the sickle cell gene before you have more children. If both of you have a sickle cell gene, there is a 1 in 4 chance for each of your children that they will get 2 genes for sickle cell anemia and have sickle cell disease.
It’s important for your child to know that he or she is a carrier of this gene, but having sickle cell trait usually does not cause any problems or limits to activities for your child.