Infants & Children

Maintenance for Infants and Children with Sickle Cell Disease

Health maintenance for the child with sickle cell disease should include a comprehensive multi-disciplinary program of care (e.g.; nutritional, physical activity, preventive maintenance and psychosocial support).  Parents and caretakers should consult with their healthcare provider about a nutritional program that will increase the energy levels of their child with sickle cell disease.  Children with sickle cell disease should drink at least four glasses of water daily.  Citrus juices are diuretics (tending to increase the discharge of urine) that can cause dehydration if there is not enough water intakePhysical activity is encouraged for all with sickle cell disease because it promotes blood circulation throughout the body and helps to avoid blockage in the circulationAlso, clothing should not be so tight that it restricts circulation.  Children with sickle cell disease should be allowed to have a regular childhood. It is also advisable that parents should report any chronic snoring or short periods of not breathing (sleep apnea) during sleep.  These may contribute to lung and chest problems.  It would help to treat these early.  Parents can help their children to avoid illnesses with a supportive and positive attitude.  Most individuals with sickle cell disease can handle the social requirements of a normal life.

Persons with sickle cell disease are not scholastically slow unless there is a history of a CVA or stroke.  Therefore, they should not be placed in a strict special educational program.  However, many children would benefit from a combination program that offers regular classes with tutoring classes when necessary.  Parents should visit the teachers and the school nurse each semester to discuss the educational and medical needs of the child.

Visits to the hematologist and/or the primary doctor should not be limited to “sick visits”. Well-patient visits provide a better psychological setting between the health care provider and the family. Well visits help the medical caretaker to become familiar with the child’s normal healthy, physical, and laboratory studies. Development of such relationships allows both the health care provider and the family to compile individualized information for better health maintenance and prevention for the child.