To understand S hemoglobin, it is helpful to understand a little more about
our blood. S hemoglobin affects a part of the blood called hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin We can inherit genes which cause
unusual types of hemoglobin to be
One role of the blood is to take the made, or genes which interfere with the
oxygen from the air in the lungs and amount of hemoglobin made.
bring it to all parts of the body. The part
of the blood that does this job is the red The usual adult hemoglobin is called
blood cell. hemoglobin A. The less common types
of hemoglobin are named by letters,
Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood such as hemoglobin S (sickle hemoglo-
cell that carries the oxygen. bin), hemoglobin C, or sometimes by
names such as hemoglobin Bart’s.
HEMOGLOBIN IN RED BLOOD CELLS
CARRIES THE OXYGEN.
GENES IN THE SPERM OF THE FATHER AND
The way hemoglobin is made in the THE EGG OF THE MOTHER DETERMINE THE
body depends on the genes a child TYPE OF HEMOGLOBIN.
inherits from both parents. A gene
carries instructions, like what color the
child’s skin or eyes will be. Different
genes carry different instructions.
Page 1 of 4
What is Sickle Hemoglobin? It is important to know that having People with sickle cell trait can pass Sickle Cell Anemia
sickle cell trait means that you only the sickle cell gene to their children. If (Hemoglobin SS)
Sickle hemoglobin is a type of hemo- have one gene for sickle hemoglobin only one parent has hemoglobin S trait,
globin that is common in people of and therefore are only a carrier of the there is a 50/50 chance that the When both parents have sickle cell
African ancestry. It is also found in disease. People with sickle cell trait children might inherit the trait. There is trait, there is a one-in-four (25%)
Mexican Americans, and white Ameri- generally have no health problems also a 50/50 chance that the children chance that their child will have sickle
cans, especially those whose families related to having only one sickle cell will not inherit the gene for S hemoglo- cell anemia. They might also have a
originally came from Turkey, Italy, gene. The trait will not develop into bin. The chances are the same with child with sickle cell trait (1-in-2, or
Greece, Spain and other Latin or sickle cell disease, which is a serious each pregnancy. 50% chance), or a child with only the
Mediterranean countries. illness described later in this pamphlet. usual type of hemoglobin (1-in-4, or
People with sickle cell trait usually 25% chance). The chances are the
Sickle Cell Trait wouldn’t even know they have S trait USUAL
S TRAIT same with each pregnancy.
unless they are tested. The impor-
Each child inherits one gene from the tance of knowing about sickle cell trait
mother and one from the father that is for future children in the family and AA AS
instructs the body how to make other family members.
hemoglobin. An individual who inherits
one gene for the usual hemoglobin A SICKLE CELL SICKLE CELL
and one gene for sickle hemoglobin, is AA TRAIT TRAIT
said to have sickle cell trait (also called ? USUAL
hemoglobin S trait). ? USUAL HEMO-
EGG HEMOGLOBIN AS GLOBIN
S TRAIT AS AS
SPERM S TRAIT
HEMOGLOBIN AS CELL ANEMIA
AS TESTING MOM AND DAD CAN ANSWER
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CHANCE OF SICKLE
CELL IN FUTURE BABIES.
SICKLE CELL TRAIT IS NOT A DISEASE
AND DOES NOT AFFECT A PERSON’S
MENTAL OR PHYSICAL HEALTH.
Page 2 of 4
Page 3 of 4
For the child who inherits the hemoglo- Symptoms of Sickle It can be helpful for people to know
bin S gene from both parents, only Cell Anemia
sickle hemoglobin is made in the
about their hemoglobin type so they
body. Symptoms of sickle cell anemia can make informed decisions regarding
include a higher risk for certain family planning. Testing and counseling
S infections to occur and can also can be arranged, and questions answered
S include painful episodes and an about sickle hemoglobin or any other kind
enlarged spleen. Sickle cell anemia
of inherited hemoglobin condition by
does not affect intelligence. There is
no cure for sickle cell anemia, but contacting:
there are treatments for the problems
caused by the disease. It is very
important that people with sickle cell
anemia receive regular medical care.
When a person has sickle cell anemia Other Types Of Sickle
the red blood cells sometimes change
from a very flexible round shape into a
rigid crescent or “sickle” shape.
Sickle cell anemia is the most com-
Sickle-shaped red blood cells can Newborn Screening Program
mon type of sickle cell disease.
prevent the usual flow of blood and 1610 NE 150th Street
However, there are some other types
oxygen to body organs. Shoreline, WA 98155
that are caused when a child inherits
one sickle cell gene and one gene for
another less common hemoglobin type
such as hemoglobin C or D. Sickle
cell disease can also be caused by a
ROUND RED BLOOD CELLS FLOW THROUGH condition called sickle beta thalas-
SMALL BLOOD VESSELS.
semia. This occurs when a child
inherits one S (sickle cell) gene and
one defective gene that can’t make
enough of the usual type of hemoglobin
(A). These other types of sickle cell
disease can also cause many health
SICKLE-SHAPED RED BLOOD CELLS CAN
BLOCK THE FLOW OF BLOOD IN SMALL BLOOD problems beginning in infancy.
Page 4 of 4