Federal health agency halts sickle cell study because subjects suffer strokes

Monday, December 6th 2004, 9:57 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ Doctors have halted a study on children with sickle cell anemia because two of the young patients have suffered strokes.

The study was designed to determine whether children with the disease could be weaned off blood transfusion therapy. It started in July 2000 but ended prematurely last month after 16 children who stopped receiving the transfusions developed narrowed arteries and other risk factors for strokes. Two other children suffered strokes but are recovering.

Now the National Institutes of Health is recommending that doctors continue using blood transfusions on young sickle cell patients, even though the treatment has its own risk.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells, which sometimes become sickle- or crescent-shaped and cannot easily pass through small blood vessels. The disease mostly affects blacks.