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Sickle Cell Anemia

Sports And Sickle Cell Disease

05/24/2007

Question:

Can children who have sickle cell anemia play any sort of sports? Are there certain activites that may be more suited to their condition and others to avoid?

Thanks very much.

Answer:

That is a very good question and the answer is not completely straightforward. In general, we do not limit the activity of children with sickle cell anemia, but stress the importance of maintaining good hydration and taking breaks when feeling tired. Because nearly all kids with sickle cell disease have anemia, they will tire more easily than their friends.

However, we do not allow our teenagers with sickle cell disease to participate in competitive high school sports like football and basketball. These sports have intense conditioning and training programs and we worry that the kids will push themselves too hard and put too much stress on their heart. Sports that involve less strenuous aerobic exercise like baseball or volleyball are usually okay.

I always recommend discussing this important question with your doctor since every child with sickle cell disease is different.

For more information:

Go to the Sickle Cell Anemia health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Anthony D Villella, MD Anthony D Villella, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University