Objectives: To assess the BMI status of children and adolescents with sickle cell disease (SCD) and determine if zBMI status during adolescence is predicted by gender, childhood zBMI status, disease genotype, and healthcare utilization (emergency department visits or hospitalizations).
Study design: Medical chart reviews were conducted on 133 patients followed through a regional Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center to obtain anthropometric measures and healthcare utilization data. Gender-specific BMI z-scores were calculated based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) norms using Epi Info NutStat Software and SPSS generated syntax. Data were summarized categorically across two time periods for each participant: childhood (age 6-12 years) and adolescence (age 13-18 years).
Results: Males were three times more likely to be underweight in adolescence compared to CDC norms, whereas females were three times more likely to be obese in adolescence. In addition, regression analyses indicated that BMI in adolescence was predicted by gender, average weight in childhood, and the average number of emergency department visits.
Conclusions: Children with SCD generally exhibit normal growth during childhood and adolescence, although 5-10% are at risk for poor growth or obesity. Prevention and intervention efforts should consider gender, average weight in childhood, and healthcare utilization factors.