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The Influence of Infant and Maternal Sickle Cell Disease on Birth Outcome and Neonatal Course

Audrey K. Brown, MD; Lynn A. Sleeper, ScD; Charles H. Pegelow, MD; Scott T. Miller, MD; Frances M. Gill, MD; Myron A. Waclawiw, PhD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148(11):1156-1162. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1994.02170110042007.
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Objective:  To compare the influence of maternal hemoglobin phenotype as well as that of the infant on birth outcome and neonatal complications.

Research Design:  Prospective, natural history study with retrospective chart review for neonatal complications.

Setting:  Nineteen pediatric sickle cell centers across the United States.

Patients:  Four hundred eighty infants with sickle cell disease (SCD) who were enrolled in the Cooperative Study of Sickle Cell Disease at less than 6 months of age, as well as a comparison cohort of 118 infants with sickle cell trait born to women with sickle cell anemia in the Cooperative Study.

Results:  In the SCD cohort, overall rates of preterm (<37 weeks), low-birth-weight (<2500 g), and small-for–gestational age births were 9%, 10%, and 8%, respectively; no significant differences were found according to infant hemoglobin phenotype. Term births accounted for 59% of the infants with low birth weight, significantly higher than the 41% US rate for black low-birth-weight infants (P=.014). Expectant mothers with sickle cell anemia are 2.5 times more likely to bear newborns who are small for gestational age than are women with other types of sickle cell disease, sickle trait, or C-trait. The most common prepartum and neonatal complications in infants with SCD were jaundice (25%), fetal distress (13%), anemia (10%), and respiratory distress (6%). Complication rates did not differ significantly by hemoglobin phenotype in the infants with SCD, but infants born to women with sickle cell anemia had higher rates of jaundice (P<.0001).

Conclusions:  Rates of adverse birth outcomes and neonatal complications in infants with SCD are similar to the rates for normal infants, although preterm birth accounts for fewer of the low-birth-weight outcomes among newborns with SCD relative to US black newborns. The hemoglobin phenotype of infants with SCD does not influence birth outcome and neonatal course, but infants born to women with sickle cell anemia are at greater risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, being small for gestational age, and neonatal jaundice.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148:1156-1162)

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