Newborn screening for Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait

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Newborn screening for Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait

Newborn screening for Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait

Our Newborn screening has been up and running for more than 2 years now, thanks to the unwavering dedication of staff at Maternity and Pediatrics, the equally unwavering, incredible support of AUA who has been sponsoring the program from Day One, and the steadfast support of CAREST.

Dr. Shivon Belle Jarvis B.Med.Sci(Hons), M.B.B.S, D.M

Dr. Shivon Belle-Jarvis, Head of SLBMC’s Pediatric Department, has worked tirelessly to put the results together in a study titled “Sickle Cell Disease Newborn Screening – An Audit of a Twin Island State Pilot Program”.

The article has now been published in the International Journal of Neonatal Screening. Congratulations, Dr. Belle!

Below is the link to view the article online.


PDF Version:

The most important findings are:

  • We found a rate of babies born with Sickle Cell Disease of 4.5 in 1000. Since we have roughly 1000 to 1,200 births per year in Antigua, this translates to 4 to 5 new patients with Sickle Cell Disease per year.
  • The incidence (i.e. the number of NEW cases) of the classic Sickle Cell Trait HbAS was 9 to 10 in 100. The incidence of the HbC trait (HbAC) was 4 – 5 in 100. Since both HbSS and HbSC constitute “full-blown” Sickle Cell Disease, we have to look at both rates together. The incidence for both is a little over 14 in 100 newborns.
  • These findings are consistent with the previously demonstrated prevalence (i.e. the proportion of persons LIVING WITH a condition) of Sickle Cell Trait in Antigua of about 18 in 100 persons. That’s 1 in 5-6 persons.
  • Only about 3% of fathers were aware of their sickle cell status. That needs some serious work.

These findings are very valuable. They prove without a doubt that the newborn screening is necessary and helpful. Babies with Sickle Cell Disease are given access to early care and will therefore have much better chances. Families with either Sickle Cell Disease or Sickle Cell Trait are counselled, which should help to decrease the number of newborns with Sickle Cell Disease in the future.

The findings also highlight the fact that public awareness still needs a lot more work, especially when it comes to testing of our men. Testing is easy. Living with Sickle Cell Disease is not.

Thank you, Dr. Belle, for all the work you have put into this!