Sickle Cell Anemia Stroke Prevention Efforts May Have Decreased Racial Disparities

ScienceDaily (Feb. 2, 2012) — The disparity in stroke-related deaths among black and white children dramatically narrowed after prevention strategies changed to include ultrasound screening and chronic blood transfusions for children with sickle cell anemia, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2012.

Before stroke prevention efforts changed in 1998, black children were 74 percent more likely to die from ischemic strokes than white children. This gap is in part due to the increased rates of sickle cell anemia in black children. Between 1999 and 2007, that excess risk had dropped by almost two-thirds. Black children were 27 percent more likely to have ischemic strokes than white children, according to death certificate data for U.S. children who died of ischemic stroke from 1988 to 2007.

“We did expect to see a decline in [ischemic stroke] deaths, but we were impressed at how quickly after 1998 the racial gap started to narrow,” said Laura Lehman, M.D., lead researcher and a clinical fellow in the Cerebrovascular Disorders and Stroke Program in the neurology department at Children’s Hospital Boston.

The study is the first to examine racial disparities and sickle cell anemia-related stroke deaths in U.S. children using a comprehensive nationwide database. It was conducted while Lehman was a research fellow working with co-author Heather J. Fullerton, M.D.,MAS, at the University of California San Francisco. Read Full Article