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Blood. 1984 Apr;63(4):921-6.

Is there a threshold level of fetal hemoglobin that ameliorates morbidity in sickle cell anemia?


When the clinical manifestations of 272 patients with sickle cell anemia are compared with their level of fetal hemoglobin (HbF), the results suggest that there may be a threshold above which HbF is effective in ameliorating the morbidity of this disease. The age of entry of these SS patients into the study ranged from birth to 56 yr; the average length of follow-up was 11 yr for a total of 3,011 patient-years of clinic observation. HbF was determined quantitatively by microchromatographic procedures; the mean for HbF was 10% +/- 6% with a range from 2% to 32%. For major organ failure, analyzed as termination events of morbidity, such as stroke or aseptic necrosis, the threshold appears to be 10%, whereas for recurrent clinical events, such as crisis or pulmonary disorders, it is 20%. No linear trend was found between HbF levels and morbidity. If a threshold exists, it is important to recognize this fact when attempts are made to raise the level of HbF in patients with sickle cell disease.

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