We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Causes of Sickle Cell Anemia?

By Marco Sumayao
Updated Feb 22, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The primary causes of sickle cell anemia (SCA), also known as sickle cell disease (SCD), are largely due to a genetic mutation in the body's hemoglobin, specifically in chromosome 11. Other causes of sickle cell anemia involve genetic inheritance of the disease. Children of two individuals with SCA generally are born with the disease, while those with one parent suffering from SCA typically do not experience any notable symptoms. The causes of sickle cell anemia are also related to problems with the blood, such as dehydration, low oxygen levels, and increased acidity.

Causes of sickle cell anemia can be attributed to a mutation in hemoglobin, the iron-rich compound that gives blood its red coloring. Under normal circumstances, red blood cells are disc-shaped and full as a result of the presence of glutamic acid. The mutation that causes SCA occurs in the beta-globin gene, which, in turn, causes the glutamic acid to be replaced with valine. The chemical change causes red blood cells to become rigid, sticky, and deformed, similar in shape to a crescent moon.

The genetic causes of sickle cell anemia are passed on to the next generation through a pattern called autosomal recessive inheritance. This means that both parents should pass the gene for the child to inherit the disease. If only one parent carries the mutation, the child will have what researchers call the "sickle cell trait."

Individuals with the sickle cell trait possess both normal and mutated hemoglobin and could potentially pass SCA on to their children. The sickle cell trait does not exhibit any symptoms outside of a number of sickle-shaped blood cells, however, and is considered harmless to the patient. With every pregnancy, two parents who each have the sickle cell trait have a 25% chance of producing a healthy child, a 50% chance of producing a carrier child, and a 25% chance of producing a child without a blood cell mutation.

Causes of sickle cell anemia are also connected to certain physical conditions. The distortion of the red blood cells in individuals with the mutation is generally triggered by low blood volume. Other contributing factors include dehydration, low blood oxygen levels, and increased blood acidity. Blood cell sickling in individuals with the sickle cell trait is also believed to be connected to high metabolic activity. Pregnant women are considered more prone to cell sickling due to the increased activity in the uterus and hormonal imbalances.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.