The development of haematological changes in homozygous sickle cell disease: a cohort study from birth to 6 years

Br J Haematol. 1981 Aug;48(4):533-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.1981.tb02750.x.


A cohort study of sickle cell disease from birth has allowed observations on the disease without the symptomatic selection inherent in previous series. The development of haematological indices from birth to 6 years in male and female infants with homozygous sickle cell (SS) disease is presented and compared with values in age and sex matched controls with a normal haemoglobin (AA) genotype previously presented elsewhere. In SS disease total haemoglobin levels fell rapidly from birth to a plateau at 3-6 months before falling again to 15 months after which no age related change occurred. Mean cell haemoglobin concentration fell from birth to lowest values at 15-18 months before increasing to reach the level present at birth by the age of 5 years. Red cell counts fell rapidly after birth to a plateau at 2 months, increased slightly to 6 months and then fell steadily throughout the remaining period of the study. The men cell volume and mean cell haemoglobin also fell rapidly after birth reaching the lowest values by 6 months and then increased progressively. Female patients showed significantly higher MCV from 4 to 8 months and significantly higher haemoglobin levels from 15 months to 4 1/2 years. Compared to AA controls, SS patients manifested significantly lower levels of haemoglobin from 2 weeks, and red cell counts from 1 month, and significantly higher levels of MCHC from 4 months to 3 years, MCV from 8 months to 5 years, and serum iron levels from 1 to 4 years. Children with SS disease were partially protected from iron deficiency in early childhood, perhaps by increased intestinal absorption of iron, and the associated increase in intracellular haemoglobin concentration might be disadvantageous during this high risk period.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Erythrocyte Count
  • Erythrocyte Indices
  • Female
  • Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Hemoglobin, Sickle / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / blood
  • Iron / blood
  • Male
  • Reticulocytes
  • Time Factors


  • Hemoglobin, Sickle
  • Hemoglobin A
  • Iron