What is sickle cell trait? Sickle cell trait is found in a person who carries one sickle hemoglobin producing gene inherited from their parents and one normal hemoglobin gene. Normal hemoglobin is called type A. Sickle hemoglobin called S. Sickle cell trait is the presence of hemoglobin AS on the hemoglobin electrophoresis. This will NOT cause sickle cell disease. Other hemoglobin traits common in the United States are AC and AE traits.
How do you get sickle cell trait? You inherit the altered hemoglobin from your parents, who may be carriers with sickle cell trait or parents with sickle cell disease. You can not catch it. You are born with it, like eye color or hair color, and it is present for life. If you inherit only one sickle gene, you have sickle cell trait. If you inherit two sickle cell genes you have sickle cell disease.
Is sickle cell trait only in African Americans? Sickle cell trait (HbS) and other hemoglobinopathies (HbC, HbE, etc.) may be found in individuals whose ancestors come from East India, Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Central and South America, or South East Asia. You can be Caucasian and have sickle cell trait. All races should be screened for this hemoglobin at birth.
How can I be tested? A simple blood test called the hemoglobin electrophoresis can be done by your doctor or local sickle cell organization. This test will tell if you are a carrier of the sickle cell trait or if you have the disease.
Newborn Screening Most States now perform the sickle cell screening when babies are born. The simple blood test will detect sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait . Other types of traits that may be discovered include:
Avoid too hot or too cold temperatures.