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What Is Sickle Cell Trait?

A person inherits sickle cell trait the same way they inherit the color of their eyes, the shape of their nose and the texture of their hair. It is inherited through the genes that their mother and father passed on to them. Genes also tell the body what kind of blood to make, so in the case of sickle cell trait, the person receives one normal gene for hemoglobin A from one parent and one abnormal gene for hemoglobin S from the other parent; A + S = AS.

Approximately 100,000 individuals in the United States have sickle cell disease and 3 million have sickle cell trait. Although individuals with sickle cell trait are generally healthy, there is a 25% chance with each pregnancy that two parents with the trait will have a baby born with sickle cell disease. 

In each pregnancy of two parents who both have sickle cell trait, there is a:

Hemoglobin SS: The individual inherits one sickle cell gene from each parent. This is the most common form of the disease.
Hemoglobin SC: The individual inherits one sickle cell gene and one for another abnormal type of hemoglobin called “C”.
Hemoglobin S-beta thalassemia: The individual inherits one sickle cell gene and one gene for  beta thalassemia, another inherited anemia.

Does Sickle Cell Trait Make A Person Sick?

No. Sickle cell trait is not an illness. Persons with the trait are generally healthy. However, on rare occasions individuals may may have blood in the urine or possibly be affected by extreme levels of elevation.
Can Sickle Cell Trait Turn Into Sickle Cell Disease?

Never. A person's hemoglobin type is something they inherit and have for life.