Increased Risk of Stillbirth for Pregnant Women With Sickle Cell Trait

There is currently not much known about the relationship between pregnancy outcomes and sickle cell trait.

New research indicates an increased risk of stillbirth for delivering mothers who have the sickle cell trait (SCT), but not sickle cell disease (SCD).

A team, led by Mary Regina Boland, MA, MPhil, PhD, FAMIA, Assistant Professor of Informatics in Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, evaluated the association between sickle cell trait and a stillbirth outcome.

The Difference Between Sickle Cell Trait and Disease
While investigators have a solid understanding on the relationship between pregnancy complications and sickle cell disease, there is far less known on this risk among individuals with sickle cell trait. This discrepancy in knowledge is largely because of a lack of clinical research among sickle cell carriers because of low sample sizes and disparities in research funding.

Individuals with 1 abnormal allele of HbS have sickle cell trait, while patients with 2 abnormal alleles have sickle cell disease.

“Sickle cell trait is not considered a disease state because many sickle cell carriers have at least 50% normal adult hemoglobin8 and are asymptomatic,” the authors wrote. “However, it is possible for people with SCT to experience sickling of red blood cells under severe hypoxia, dehydration, and hyperthermia.”