Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research
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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 141  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 509-515

Sickle cell disease in tribal populations in India

National Institue of Immunohaematology (ICMR), Mumbai, India

Correspondence Address:
Roshan B Colah
National Institute of Immunohaematology (ICMR), 13[th] Floor, NMS Bldg, KEM Hospital Campus, Parel, Mumbai 400 012, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-5916.159492

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The sickle gene is widespread among many tribal population groups in India with prevalence of heterozygotes varying from 1-40 per cent. Co-inheritance of the sickle gene with β-thalassaemia, HbD Punjab and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency has also been reported. Most of the screening programmes in India now use high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis although the solubility test is also sensitive and cheap. Sickle cell disease (SCD) among tribal populations is generally milder than among non-tribal groups with fewer episodes of painful crises, infections, acute chest syndrome and need for hospitalization. This has partly been attributed to the very high prevalence of α-thalassaemia among these tribes as well as higher foetal haemoglobin levels. However, the clinical presentation is variable with many cases having a severe presentation. There is not much information available on maternal and perinatal outcome in tribal women with sickle cell disease. Newborn screening programmes for SCD have recently been initiated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orissa and Chattisgarh and monitoring these birth cohorts will help to understand the natural history of SCD in India. Prenatal diagnosis is acceptable by tribal families in India. The Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Rural Health Mission in different States are undertaking outreach programmes for better management and control of the disease.

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