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Why is Sickle Cell Anemia more common in African Americans?

Sickle Cell Anemia is actually more common in people who have a history of living in malaria ridden areas such as South Africa. Actually, white people who live in Malaria ridden area's also have sickle cells. The red blood cells change shape in order to pierce the malaria germ which kills it. So a few sickle shaped cells is actually a defense against malaria. It is when they become out of control that there is a sickle cell crisis.

It now gets carried on genetically, which is why people in the United States have it.

Carol (Yeah I said it!) G.
It a genetic inherent disease, whom Hispanics are also prone to, but, no so much as the African American Population.

van kedileri
genetic predisposition


Cowardly Yamster
if you have two of the recessive genes, you have sickle cell disease. If you only have one of the genes, you are a carrier. Carrier status protects against malaria, and since malaria is very common in africa, having a sickle cell gene gave them a natural advantage. Natural selection at work.

The gene the calls for the sickle cell trait also makes one immune to malaria. Considering the geographical heritage of African Americans, this trait lead to this population being able to thrive in mosquito infested areas such as in the tropics. The unfortunate thing, however, are the sick cell side effects.

Sickle cell anemia is called by a genetic defect of the hemoglobin molecule, which causes the molecule to change shape when there is a reduced oxygen environment within the body. When the molecule changes shape, it causes the entire red cell to change and makes it appear sickle-shaped. This change in shape causes the red cells to become lodged in small capillaries, thus blocking the flow of blood to the tissues normally fed by those capillaries. This is known as sickle cell crisis and can be extremely painful and is sometimes fatal.

To have sickle cell anemia, a person must have two defective genes. If a person possesses only one defective gene, he is known as a carrier who can pass the gene to his children. There are a couple of different genetic mutations that cause SCA, and these are found in populations originating from west Africa. The reason why the defective gene survives is because those who are carriers seem to have an enhanced immunity to malaria, which increases the likelihood of surviving long enough to reproduce and pass on the defective gene.

It would be extremely rare for a "white" person to have SCA and if this does occur, it is mostly likely due to some distant African ancestry. There are some other genetic blood conditions, such as thallasemia, that mimic SCA, and these can be found in non-African populations.

A definitive diagnosis of SCA can be made by a test called hemoglobin electrophoresis.

In short, SCA is found in populations with west African ancestry because that is where the original genetic mutation arose from.

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