Black Women With Sickle Cell Trait More Likely To Have Multiple Births, Less Likely To Deliver Preterm, Study Finds
Black women who carry the sickle cell trait are less likely to deliver prematurely but more likely to have multiple births, according to a report published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, Reuters reports. For the report, researcher Allison Bryant of the University of California-San Francisco and colleagues examined more than 5,000 black women who gave birth between 1976 and 2001; 6.5% of the women carried the sickle cell trait. Women with the sickle cell trait were 85% less likely to deliver before 32 weeks' gestation and 94% more likely to be carrying more than one fetus than women who did not have the sickle cell trait, researchers found. Risk of premature delivery was reduced even further for women carrying more than one fetus who also had the sickle cell trait. According to Reuters, where malaria is common, such as Africa, the sickle cell trait is thought to provide people with a survival advantage because red blood cells with the sickle shape are less likely to be infected with the malarial parasite. Researchers said the study's findings "may fit into this framework" even in areas where malaria is not a threat. They recommended that black women be screened for blood disorders during pregnancy because "there are clear implications for genetic counseling." Bryant said that early detection of multiple pregnancies is important to ensure good outcomes (Boggs, Reuters, 4/19).
An abstract of the study is available online.