OAKLAND (KCBS) – A genetic blood disorder prevalent in countries with high incidents of malaria is more common in the United States than many realize, according to a researcher at Oakland Children’s Hospital.

One of every 100 children born in California has sickle cell disease, said Dr. Elliot Vichinsky, principal investigator of its sickle cell program.

“So it’s a common problem. We need the community to help us keep it on the radar,” he said.

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

More than 40 medical researchers from Latin America and the Middle East have come to Oakland for a two-day conference whose aim, Vichinsky said, is to develop global standards for studying and fighting a disease whose victims once lived only into their 20s.

“Our goal is to develop a worldwide view of sickle cell disease to work with each country and learn from them,” he said.

An individual with the sickle cell trait, so named because of the unusual shape of the red blood cells, is resistant to malaria, but the child of two parents that carry that trait has a 25 percent chance of being born with sickle cell.

Vichinsky said that since he entered the field in the 1970s, the average lifespan of an individual with sickle cell has been extended so much that people regularly live into their 50s.

Children’s Hospital Oakland is considered one of the most comprehensive sickle cell centers in the world.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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