Provide counseling to family after infant tests positive for sickle cell trait

Primary-care providers should offer educational materials and genetic counseling to families of newborns with positive results for sickle cell trait.

Provide counseling to family after infant tests positive for sickle cell trait
Provide counseling to family after infant tests positive for sickle cell trait

HealthDay News -- After an infant receives positive test results for sickle cell trait (SCT) at the time of newborn screening, primary-care providers (PCPs) should offer educational materials and provide genetic counseling to families, results of a report published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate.

“By including educational materials and providing genetic counseling at the same time that families are provided positive SCT results, the occurrence and public health burden of sickle cell disease might be reduced,” wrote Jelili Ojodu, MPH, of the Association of Public Health Laboratories in Silver Spring, Md., and colleagues.

Patients with SCT are heterozygous carriers of a abnormal beta-globin gene that results in the production of an abnormal hemoglobin, Hb S, which can distort red blood cells. All newborn screening programs have provided sickle cell disease (SCD) screening for newborns since 2006. SCD screening identifies both SCD and SCT, according to the investigators.

In 2010, the estimate for total United States incidence of SCT was 15.5 cases per 1,000 births, ranging from 0.8 cases per 1,000 births in Montana to 34.1 cases per 1,000 births in Mississippi.

By race only, the total United States incidence of SCT was 73.1 cases per 1,000 black births, 3.0 cases per 1,000 white births, and 2.2 cases per 1,000 Asian or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander births.

SCT has been reported in every state and every racial/ethnic group population. Primary-care providers should offer educational materials and genetic counseling to families of newborns with positive results for SCT.

"The period immediately after newborn screening is ideal for primary-care providers and genetic counselors to begin educating the families of identified persons with sickle cell trait about potential health complications and reproductive considerations," emphasized the researchers.

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