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Sickle cell anemia may not be as well-known as say malaria, tuberculosis or AIDS. But every year, hundreds of thousands of babies around the world are born with this inherited blood disorder. And the numbers are expected to climb.

The number of sickle cell anemia cases is expected to increase about 30 percent globally by 2050, scientists said Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease is most common, will be the hardest hit.

A child gets sickle cell anemia by inheriting two copies of a defective gene, one from each parent. The mutations cause red blood cells to collapse and form a crescent moon-like shape. These so-called sickle cells clump together and can't carry oxygen throughout the body.

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