Sickle cell disease, or SCD, affects the shape and function of red blood cells. The disease is caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin gene, which is responsible for producing a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body. This mutation causes red blood cells to take on a crescent or "sickle" shape and can lead to blockages of blood vessels, anemia, organ damage, infections and stroke.
In the United States, Black people are the most heavily impacted, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that 1 out of every 365 African American children are born with sickle cell. Hispanic Americans also carry a higher risk of inheriting the disease, but at a much lower rate than African Americans. The CDC estimates 1 out of 16,300 Hispanic Americans are born with SCD.