Over the past few months I have been writing articles about Sickle Cell Disease and the impact it has in the United States and across the globe. My Multimedia piece, Hydroxyurea: The Best Choice to Treat Sickle Cell Disease took a look at the medication and focused mainly on treating adults with Sickle Cell Disease. In it’s early days the medication was only prescribed to adults due to the strength of Hydroxyurea.
Previously I introduced you to Miralda Charles, a Community Health Worker for the Sickle Cell Program at the Valerie Fund in Newark, New Jersey. She says they have 300 to 400 children with Sickle Cell Disease and 45 taking Hydroxyurea. The medication is more commonly being given to younger and younger kids with Sickle Cell Disease because of its benefits says, Charles.
Hydroxyurea is a medication that promises to help ease the pain caused by the disease. According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the medication helps the red blood cells stay round and flexible allowing them to easily travel through the blood vessels. The site goes on to say the medication increases the amount of fetal hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Fetal hemoglobin helps protect newborns from having complications in the first few months of life says, St. Jude. Treating babies with Hydroxyurea takes on a completely different approach; the medication is given in a liquid form and in smaller doses according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Research done at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital suggest babies and young children taking the medication may prevent the Hemoglobin F levels from falling and protect the red blood cells from sickling. The clinical trial was called Hydroxyurea Safety and Organ Toxicity (HUSOFT) study. The study was done over a six year time period to show the medication is safe and effective in babies according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
For more information about the Valerie Fund and to donate you can visit TheValerieFund.org.