Cayman is observing World Sickle Cell Day today as part of global efforts to raise awareness of the disease.
According to the Public Health Department, 46 people in Cayman have sickle cell disease – an inherited chronic disorder that affects red blood cells.
The department began screening for the disease in the early 1970s, targeting high-risk families. Since 1997, it has carried out routine newborn screening.
“It is important to test for sickle cell trait (carriers) – as this information can help parents make informed reproductive choices,” said Joy Merren, genetics coordinator at the Health Services Authority.
“If someone has sickle cell trait, it is important to know if one’s partner is also a carrier. If both parents are sickle cell carriers, then with each pregnancy, there is a 25 percent risk of having a child with sickle cell disease. While sickle cell trait is mild, sickle cell disease is serious.”