By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Very few American children with sickle cell disease are getting the necessary screening tests for a stroke, according to a study released Tuesday.
The study found that less than half are screened and only about half or fewer receive treatment that can help with pain and anemia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study and called for more screening and treatment.
A type of sickle cell disease, called sickle cell anemia, is one of the leading causes of stroke in children. The disease can shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years and lead to complications, said Dr. Karen Remley of the CDC.
“These complications are preventable, they are not inevitable,” he said in a statement.
Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited disorders in which normally round red blood cells become hard, sticky, and crescent-shaped. The misshapen cells obstruct blood flow, which can lead to problems such as infection, pain, and other complications. More than 90% of the approximately 100,000 Americans with sickle cell disease are black.
The research involved 3,300 children with sickle cell anemia in 2019. It found that 47% of children ages 2 to 9 and 38% of those ages 10 to 16 received an ultrasound to monitor blood flow and assess their risk of stroke. Blood transfusions can help people at high risk.
The study also found that 38% of younger children and 53% of older children used hydroxyurea, a drug that can reduce periods of severe pain and other complications.
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