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Sickle Cell

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Do You Know That Nigeria Has The Highest Number Of Sickle Cell Prevalence?

A staggering 25 percent of adults throughout Nigeria are said to have the sickle cell trait!

Sickle Cell Anemia or Sickle cell disease is an autosomal disease which means the condition is not linked to sex chromosomes and two copies of the genes are required to have the disease. If you have only one copy of the gene, you are said to have a sickle cell trait. It is hereditary and gotten from already sickle cell parents (those with genotype SS) or Carrier parents (those with genotype AS). This condition is medically incurable. As dangerous as this condition sounds, it is caused simply by the Amino acid substitution of Valine for Glutamine or glutamic acid in the beta-chain reaction which results in nucleotide defect that causes abnormal beta-chains in the haemoglobin.

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All over the world, this condition is being battled. Compared to other nations, it is more prevalent in Africa, and in Africa, it is most prevalent in Nigeria, sadly, it is safe to say that Nigeria has the most cases of sickle cell in the world. With an estimation of 150,000 births of Babies with sickle cell annually all over the world, Nigeria takes over half of the share, having more than 300,000 Babies annually with that severe disorder. With the rate decreasing ignorance as to how this disease can be eradicated, it is disheartening that nothing has changed.


Though it is possible to know at the fetal stage Symptoms might begin to show in babies from as early as 4 months old, but generally occur around the 6-month mark. Though there are different types of Sickle Cell Disease, they all have similar symptoms and each has a different level of severity. These symptoms include:

  • Excessive fatigue or irritability, from anaemia fussiness.
  • Jaundice, which is yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Swelling and pain in hands and feet
  • Frequent infections
  • Pain in the chest, back, arms, or legs.

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Some complications that come with this condition are:

  • Anaemia is a shortage of RBCs. Sickle cells are easily broken. This breaking apart of RBCs is called chronic hemolysis. RBCs generally live for about 120 days. Sickle cells live for a maximum of 10 to 20 days.
  • The hand-foot syndrome occurs when sickle-shaped RBCs block blood vessels in the hands or feet which causes severe pains and discomforts in these regions.
  • Delayed growth often occurs in people with SCD. Children are generally shorter but regain their height by adulthood. Sexual maturation may also be delayed. This happens because sickle cell RBCs can’t supply enough oxygen and nutrients.

There are several other complications accompanying this disease such as Neurological damage, eye defects, Priapism and Gallstone, just to mention a few.

Though not Medically curable, Sickle cell disease can be prevented and controlled. This can be achieved by pairing the right genotypes; basically, people with genotype AA could marry and have children with any other genotype, People with AS and SS should be restricted to marry only those with AA genotype. By doing so, the number of Sickle cell patients will drastically diminish and subsequently be eradicated.


Featured image source: stearsng

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Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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