Hospitals are 'failing children with sickle cell anemia', study finds

Research has emerged from experts at Children's Hospital Los Angeles revealing gaps in preventative care for children with sickle cell anemia, according to a March 6 news release.

Children with the inherited disorder are more prone to stroke and catching severe infections. Despite that, only 50% of children between ages 2 and 15 with the disorder are given annual transcranial Doppler ultrasounds, which are used to identify conditions that affect blood flow to the brain. Additionally, only 20% of children up to age 5 are prescribed preventative antibiotics to prevent infection, according to the study, which was published March 6 in Pediatrics

Researchers looked at data from Sickle Cell Disease Collection Programs in both California and Georgia between 2010 and 2019 to get these results. 

"What we found, unfortunately, was not what we'd hoped for," Ashaunta Anderson, MD, lead author of the study and a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

These two practices, annual brain assessments and preventative antibiotics are practices that help "maximize survival" in children with sickle cell anemia, according to the researchers, and lack of adherence to those guidelines is concerning.

"[D]ata are presented that dampen this optimism and justify the need for thoughtful reflection; we are, in fact, still failing children with [sickle cell anemia]," Susan Creary, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics and an investigator in the Center for Child Health Equity and Outcomes Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital; and Sarah Reeves, PhD, assistant professor, pediatrics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health wrote in an accompanying editorial to the research.

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