Why do African-Americans get sickle cell anemia

Why do African-Americans get sickle cell anemia

Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is considered to be the most frequent as well as the most dangerous type of sickle cell disease (SCD). SCD is a severe blood disorder that is inheritable and lasts for a lifetime. It occurs when the body produces sickle-shaped” (or crescent like) red blood cells that is due to the presence of hemoglobin S (or sickle hemoglobin) within the blood cells. The production of sickle cells is viewed to have been caused by an error within the genes or a kind of mutation that enables the body to produce unusual and defective red blood cells.

The mutation within the genes that is responsible for the development of SCD is believed to have started in areas around the world where malaria was widespread like Africa and the Mediterranean regions of Europe. The assumption has been made since people with sickle trait, or individuals who carries the defective gene, have been found to be resistant to malaria. According to studies, sickle trait essentially protects the individual from the parasite causing malaria that is carried by mosquitoes.

The downside of having sickle trait is that a child tends to inherit the defective genes of both parents which then results to the development of sickle cell disease. However, if only one parent has sickle trait then the child may not develop the sickle cell disease, but will still have the trait and transmit it to his/her children.

In general, SCD is spread out in different parts of the world. However, SCD is predominantly common among people with specific descent that includes African, Turkish, Greeks, Italian, Cuban, Latin Americans, Indian nationals, and Arabs to name a few. U.S. Statistics showed that 1 out of 500 African American births are positive to sickle cell disease, whereas 1 out of 1,000 to 1,400 Hispanic-American births also have it.

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