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A 39-year-old member asked:

Can you please tell me why it'sthat only carriers of sickle cell anemia are immune to malaria?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Steven Ginsberg
Hematology and Oncology 37 years experience
Both carriers and : People with the disease are protected (not immune). People with trait historically were more likely to survive into adulthood to pass along the sickle cell gene. People with ss hemglobin, until recently, were not likely to survive into adulthood to have children.
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 25 years experience
Sickle Cell /Malaria: In a person who has sickle-cell trait – the red blood cells are destroyed prematurely before the Plamodium can reproduce. According to one study “Sickle cell trait provides 60% protection against overall mortality. Most of this protection occurs between 2-16 months of life, before the onset of clinical immunity in areas with intense transmission of malaria.”
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 25 years experience
Provided original answer
http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/biology/sickle_cell.html ** This is not the case for a person with sickle-cell disease. People who are Sickle Cell carriers are not immune to Malaria because they can still become infected. But it may improve survivability in Malarial areas.
Oct 13, 2014

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A 35-year-old member asked:

Can you please tell me how sickle cell disase and sickle cell anemia differ?

1 doctor answer4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Joseph Torkildson
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology 39 years experience
It depends: This often gets confusing because doctors don't always use terms the same way. Sickle cell anemia typically refers to the condition where a person inherits two s genes; by convention hematologists call this ss. This is also a type of sickle cell disease, but often hematologist include other diseases like sc disease (one s gene, one c gene) or s/beta thal under the umbrella of sickle cell disease.
A 45-year-old member asked:

Why is it that carriers of sickle cell anemia are immune to malaria?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. James Ball
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology 19 years experience
Malaria infects RBCs: Malaria infects red blood cells. Persons with sickle cell trait will often be "immune" because the malaria infection is not allowed to propagate through the rbcs because the sickle trait causes them to die a little faster when infected. Persons with sickle cell disease get very sick with malaria, because of sickle cell related complications. Persons with normal hemoglobin gets sick from malaria.
A 37-year-old member asked:

I'm wondering why are carriers for sickle cell anemia resistant to malaria?

4 doctor answers11 doctors weighed in
Dr. Liawaty Ho
Hematology and Oncology 23 years experience
Sickle and malaria: Patients with sickle cell disease are protected against severe and complicated malaria infection- by 2 mechanism: -1. Cells infected with malaria parasites had accelerated sickling compared with non-infected cells- and as the result the cell would be destroyed/ promoting removal of infected cells from the circulation `2.Impaired parasite growth due to reduce o2 content in sickle cell.
A 30-year-old member asked:

Is sickle cell anemia prevalent where malaria doesn't exist?

1 doctor answer5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Joseph Torkildson
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology 39 years experience
Only here in the US: If you compare a MAP of malaria prevalence (number of cases) to a MAP of sickle cell disease prevalence, they are almost super-imposable with one exception; the United States. The prevalence of sickle cell anemia in the us is as high as some african countries with lower malaria frequencies, but our only malaria comes from travelers.
A 41-year-old member asked:

What causes sickle cell anemia besides malaria?

2 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Michael Benjamin
Hematology and Oncology 23 years experience
Malaria doesnt cause: Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary disease caused by a mutation in the dna coding for hemoglobin. Scientists have long known that sickle cell anemia protects carriers from malaria infections, which could be advantageous in certain parts of the world. Malaria does not cause sickle cell anemia.

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Last updated Oct 31, 2014
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