In many countries, newborn screening includes a blood test to detect the presence of aberrant hemoglobin protein. The screening also includes family history, the child's medical history, and a physical assessment.
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Red blood cells with a sickle shape have a tendency to get stuck inside narrow blood arteries. If this happens in the spleen, it can cause splenic sequestration, a condition in which blood is trapped inside the spleen and cannot flow through. This causes spleen enlargement, which is painful and may be felt from the exterior of the body. Rapid spleen enlargement might result in severe anemia. The spleen may also grow gradually over several weeks, causing only minor alterations in the red blood cell count. Parents should keep an eye on their child's spleen size and seek medical attention if it appears to be enlarged.
In sickle cell anemia patients, painful episodes are common and occur during childhood, but they are less common in babies. Sickle red blood cells get stuck inside narrow blood arteries, which causes them. This is referred to as a vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC), and it is frequently followed by swelling of the hands, feet, arms, or legs.
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