Mortality and causes of death in children with sickle cell disease in the Netherlands, before the introduction of neonatal screening

Br J Haematol. 2011 Oct;155(1):106-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2011.08806.x. Epub 2011 Jul 27.


This study analyzed the mortality and causes of death in sickle cell disease patients in the Netherlands, to provide a baseline for monitoring the effect of the recently introduced neonatal screening programme and to indicate areas of improvement in the care for these patients. All children (<18 years) diagnosed with sickle cell disease in a tertiary hospital from 1985 to 2007 were included. Vital status was determined up to March 2008. A total of 298 children were included: 189 (63%) patients had HbSS, 17 (6%) HbSβ(0) thalassaemia, 72 (24%) HbSC and 20 (7%) HbSβ(+) thalassaemia. Twelve patients (4%) died during a total follow-up of 3896 patient years. All known deaths were sickle cell disease-related. Meningitis/sepsis (n=4; 33%), stroke (n=3; 25%) and death during a visit to the country of origin (n=3; 25%) were the most common causes of death. The overall mortality rate was 0·27 deaths/100 patient years [95% confidence interval (CI): 0·15-0·43]. The estimated survival at the age of 18 years was 97·3% (95% CI: 95-99%). This report confirms that the burden of mortality in sickle cell disease is increasingly shifting to adults. It is recommended that compliance to antibiotic prophylaxis, thorough counselling and support for patients travelling abroad and specialized peri-operative care should receive continuous attention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / mortality*
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / complications
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / mortality
  • Neonatal Screening
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Opportunistic Infections / complications
  • Opportunistic Infections / mortality
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / mortality