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I Have Sickle Cell Trait: Could I Pass Sickle Cell Disease to My Children?

Medically reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD

If you have sickle cell trait, it doesn't mean your children will have sickle cell disease. It depends on your partner’s status too.

When people have kids, each parent passes along one copy of the beta globin gene to their child. If the child gets one normal copy and one copy that’s a sickle-cell variant, the child has sickle cell trait. Sickle cell disease happens if the child gets one copy that is the sickle-cell variant and the other copy is also a sickle-cell variant or another type of variant. Either way, the child will have red blood cells that can become sickle cells. These cells can block blood vessels causing pain or other health problems.

Before you decide to have kids, it’s best to talk with your partner and have them find out their status. They can get a simple blood test to learn if they have a beta globin gene variant. If you want to know more, a genetic counselor can tell you all about your genes and options for having kids when you’re ready.

  • How Does Someone Get Sickle Cell Disease?

    How Does Someone Get Sickle Cell Disease?

    Sickle cell disease is genetic. That means it gets passed down in genes from parents to kids. Find out how it happens.

Medically reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date reviewed: June 2023