Background: Poor growth and under-nutrition are common in children with sickle cell disease (SCD). This review summarises evidence of nutritional status in children with SCD in relation to anthropometric status, disease severity, body composition, energy metabolism, micronutrient deficiency and endocrine dysfunction.
Methods: A literature search was conducted on the Medline/PUBMED, SCOPUS, SciELO and LILACS databases to July 2007 using the keywords sickle cell combined with nutrition, anthropometry, growth, height and weight, body mass index, and specific named micronutrients.
Results: Forty-six studies (26 cross-sectional and 20 longitudinal) were included in the final anthropometric analysis. Fourteen of the longitudinal studies were conducted in North America, the Caribbean or Europe, representing 78.8% (2086/2645) of patients. Most studies were observational with wide variations in sample size and selection of reference growth data, which limited comparability. There was a paucity of studies from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, highlighting a large knowledge gap for low-resource settings. There was a consistent pattern of growth failure among affected children from all geographic areas, with good evidence linking growth failure to endocrine dysfunction, metabolic derangement and specific nutrient deficiencies.
Conclusions: The monitoring of growth and nutritional status in children with SCD is an essential requirement for comprehensive care, facilitating early diagnosis of growth failure and nutritional intervention. Randomised controlled trials are necessary to assess the potential benefits of nutritional interventions in relation to growth, nutritional status and the pathophysiology of the disease.