HEALTH EFFECTS OF SICKLE CELL ON PREGNANT WOMEN
Pregnant women with sickle cell disease face a significant impact due to the elevated risk of hemolysis and vascular occlusion. Hemolysis, the breakdown of red blood cells, results in lower level of haemoglobin, which is essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body. The irregular shape of the red blood cells obstructs the flow of blood through narrow vessels, causing pain, vascular crises, and potential lung problems. Additionally, there may be an enlargement of the spleen and a decrease in overall blood counts during a plastic crisis.
During pregnancy, the decrease in haemoglobin levels can negatively affect the growth and development of the fetus, potentially leading to intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR). The abnormal shape of the red blood cells further intensifies the occurrence of vascular occlusion, which can worsen during pregnancy. It is crucial for pregnant women with sickle cell disease to pay extra attention to their diet and nutrition to maintain normal haemoglobin levels. Regular monitoring of haemoglobin levels, along with adequate hydration, fluid intake, and weight checks, is crucial to ensure proper fetal growth. Frequent visits to gynaecologists, obstetricians, and haematologists are necessary to effectively manage complications related to sickle cell disease throughout pregnancy.