Sickle cell disease not always a barrier to pregnancy

For women that carry a genetic disease – such as the blood disorder sickle cell disease – pregnancy may seem an unrealistic ambition. Apart from the fears of would-be parents that their child may inherit the disease, a condition like sickle cell disease makes a complicated pregnancy more likely. But that doesn’t make it impossible. Choosing the right medication is crucial, and bodies such as the UK’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are issuing guidance as to exactly how to manage a pregnancy in a woman with this disease.

The difference between a successful pregnancy, or otherwise, hangs on the quality of medical care and advice. For example, the UK’s NHS notes that the safe use of penicillin “has not been definitely established” in pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, London hospital Guy’s & St Thomas advises mothers-to-be suffering from sickle cell disease to “continue with… penicillin 250mg twice daily.” For women simply searching the Internet for answers, this kind of contradictory information is confusing, causing additional emotional strain.

Close management from a specialist team is key in these situations. Research in Nigeria published in late 2012 found that access to a team of healthcare professionals could let mothers suffering from sickle cell disease expect a “good pregnancy outcome.” With special attention, sickle cell sufferers can adapt their medication in accordance to their need and have a strong chance of having a healthy baby.

What was your experience with chronic disease and pregnancy?

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