Sickle cell disease is a rare inherited blood disorder. It is characterized by the presence of sickle or crescent shaped red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the bloodstream. These abnormally-shaped cells become rigid and lodge themselves in the very tiny blood vessels (capillaries) of the peripheral blood system (blood vessels outside of the heart). The capillaries become clogged, preventing the normal flow of oxygen to tissues. Common symptoms associated with sickle cell disease include chest pain, frequent infections, yellowing of the skin (jaundice), and low levels of circulating red blood cells (anemia). Sickle cell disease has several recognized forms including sickle cell anemia, sickle cell hemoglobin C disease and sickle cell thalassemia disease. Sickle cell disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.
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