Physicians and researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center found that children with sickle cell disease who are exposed to tobacco smoke in the home have more complications from the disease than those who live in a smoke-free environment. The study was published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
"Exposure to environmental or passive tobacco smoke increased the risk of sickle cell crisis by 90 percent, and was not influenced by other factors known to increase complications, such as age of the patient or type of sickle cell disease," said Daniel C. West, associate professor of pediatrics at UC Davis and lead author of the study. "Exposure to tobacco smoke has a tremendous impact on children with sickle cell disease. In fact, the study suggests that removing passive tobacco smoke from the home might not only reduce the suffering of children with sickle cell disease, but also reduce the cost of medical care."
Sickle cell disease is a hereditary disease that affects hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries and delivers oxygen to tissues. The presence of sickle hemoglobin can lead to damaged and misshapen red blood cells that do not flow normally through blood vessels and deliver less than the normal amount of oxygen to peripheral tissues. These abnormalities can cause episodes of severe pain, known as sickle cell crises, and life-threatening damage to vital organs, such as the lungs and the brain.
Jennifer Conradi | UC, Davis Health System
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