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PLoS One. 2013 May 22;8(5):e64141. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064141. Print 2013.

Sickle cell trait: is there an increased VTE risk in pregnancy and the postpartum?

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Department of Medicine, Mountt Sinai Medical Center, New York, New York, United States of America.


Blacks are purported to have a higher venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk than whites. We hypothesized that this might be due, in part, to the greater presence of sickle cell trait (SCT) among blacks. We investigated whether the presence of SCT resulted in a higher VTE incidence in a population predisposed to VTE, the pregnant/postpartum women.


Using a mirrored clinical database that prospectively gathered in- and out-patient information for the years 1998-2008, we collected demographic data, including hemoglobin electrophoreses, on all pregnant/postpartum non-Hispanic women who delivered at a large, diverse, urban hospital. We identified those women who developed VTE either while pregnant or postpartum during those 11 years. Charts initially identified as potential VTE cases were subjected to review to ensure accuracy of VTE coding.


Of 12,429 women, 679 non-Hispanic SCT black women, 5,465 non-Hispanic Hemoglobin AA (women with HbA as the only hemoglobin present on electrophoresis, with normal amounts of the minor hemoglobins) black women and 1,162 non-Hispanic HbAA white women were included in the analysis. SCT prevalence was high (11.1%) within this black population as compared to 8.3% in the general non-white population. Proportions with VTE were similar for black SCT and black HbAA groups: 0.44% for the SCT group, 0.49% for non-Hispanic black HbAA women. Black HbAA women had a non-significantly higher proportion of VTE than white HbAA women 0.49% vs 0.26% (RR 1.9, 95%CI:0.6,6.3, pā€Š=ā€Š0.28). Women with VTE were older than those without VTE (32.2 vs. 27.6 years, pā€Š=ā€Š0.0002) and the majority of VTE occurred postpartum in all groups, and significantly in the HbAA groups. There was no increase in the incidence of pulmonary emboli in the SCT group.


In the largest analysis to date, we could not detect a meaningful difference in peripartum VTE incidence between women with and without sickle cell trait.

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