When do the symptoms of sickle cell disease (SCD) develop?

Updated: May 12, 2021
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Although hematologic changes indicative of SCD are evident as early as the age of 10 weeks, symptoms usually do not develop until the age of 6-12 months because of high levels of circulating fetal hemoglobin. After infancy, erythrocytes of patients with sickle cell anemia contain approximately 90% hemoglobin S (HbS), 2-10% hemoglobin F (HbF), and a normal amount of minor fraction of adult hemoglobin (HbA2). Adult hemoglobin (HbA), which usually gains prominence at the age of 3 months, is absent.


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