Case Report
2016 June
Volume : 4 Issue : 2

Sickle cell disease in pregnancy

Neelima T, Surbhi Rathore

Pdf Page Numbers :- 83-86

  ¹Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, MinisterRoad,Secunderabad-500003, Telangana, India

 *Corresponding author: Dr. T. Neelima, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Minister Road, Secunderabad-500003, Telangana. Mobile: 09849991345;Email:

 Received 18 December 2015; Revised 15 February 2016; Accepted 22 February 2016; Published 29 February 2016

 Citation:Neelima T, Rathore S. Sickle cell disease in pregnancy. J Med Sci Res. 2016; 4(2):83-86.DOI:

 Copyright: © 2016 Neelima T, et al. Published by KIMS Foundation and Research Centre. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



  Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group ofinheritedsingle gene autosomal recessive disorder caused by single gene, which affects haemoglobin structure. SCD has its origin in sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East, hence it is most common in people of African descent, as well as in the Caribbean, Middle East, parts of India, South and Central America. Sickle cell anemia in pregnancy need to be addressed and has to be managed by both obstetric team and haematologist in co-ordination. Preconceptional counseling plays a key role in decreasing maternal and fetal complications in sickle cell anemia in pregnancy.


Keywords: sickle cell disease; pregnancy; preconceptional counseling; haemoglobinopathy

Full Text


Sickle cell anaemia,or SS haemoglobinopathy,is a result of sickle cell gene homozygosis. Sickle cell diseasealso includes haemoglobin (Hb) S interactions with haemoglobin variants other than normal HbA. The most common Hb variants are C (SC haemoglobinopathy),D-Punjab, and the co-inheritance of beta thalassemia trait (HbS/β-thalassemia) [1-3].


SCD in pregnancy is associated with both fetal and maternal complications and is associated with increased incidence of perinatal mortality[4-9],premature labour[4-10],fetal growth restriction[4-11], and acute pain crisis in pregnancy[4-7,12, 13]. Studies also described an increase in spontaneous miscarriage[10], antenatal hospitalisation[11], maternal mortality[14], delivery by C-sections[11,14], infection,thromboembolic events [15],antepartum haemorrhage[14].


Case presentation

A 22-year-old primigravida with 28 weeks of gestational age, known case of sickle cell anaemia (homozygous SS) was referred form peripheral hospital in view ofper vaginal bleeding since 12 hours (partially soaked 1pad) associated with cramping lower abdominal pain,intermittent in nature and obstetrics scan was suggestiveof single live fetus in cephalic presentation of 28 week gestational age withplacental infarcts.


Patient was a booked case in a peripheral hospital,Adilabad. She was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at the age of 11 years and was not on any treatment for the same. She was started on hydroxyurea by the doctor after confirmation of pregnancy. She was taking iron,folic acid and calcium supplements throughout her antenatal period.Tetanus prophylaxis was done for the patient in peripheral hospital.


On the morning of 20th March 2016, she presented with per vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain to the same hospital. Ultrasonogram (USG) was done, which showed single live fetus with composite gestational age corresponding to 28 weeks and estimated fetal weight was 984 grams. Fundal placenta hadfeatures suggestive of infracts and fetal heart rate was 98/min. She was referred to KIMS hospital,Secunderabad for further management. At the time of presentation she was perceiving fetal movements well. There was a historyof easy fatigability and generalised weakness.


There was no complaint of per vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy,earlier to this episode. There was no history of trauma or any fever during pregnancy. There was no past history of acute chest pain or abdominal pain.


Her last normal menstrual period was on 09-09-2015 which corresponded to26 weeksofgestational age but as per early scans she was 28 weeks, so it was considered as wrong LMP. She spontaneously conceived after one year of active married life,and it was a non-consanguineous marriage. Her previous menstrual cycles were regular with normal flow with no dysmenorrhea.There was no surgical history. There was no history of sickle cell anemia or other co-morbidities in the family.


On examination, patient was conscious and coherent. General condition was fair but clinically pallorwas present.Pulse rate was 96/min and oxygen saturation was 98% at room air,other vital parameterswere normal. Systemic examination was unremarkable. Abdomen was globular;on palpation it was found to be tense,with uterus of 28week size,with cephalicpresentation. On auscultation fetal heart sound was present on left ischio-umbilical line. Emergency obstetric scan was done which showed single live fetus in cephalic presentationof 28 week gestational age, placenta was seen in fundal posterior position. Multiple densities with altered echotexture of varied sizes were noted in the placenta, most likely to be placental haemorrhage/infarcts. She was shifted to medical intensive care unit (MICU)for close observation. Corticosteroid prophylaxis was given to the patient and was started on higher antibiotics. Patient was given one blood transfusion and one unit of fresh frozen plasma in view of severe anemia with haemoglobin 7.5 gm%. She was started on oxygen support. Second hourly fetal heart monitoring was done. Next day morning fetal heart soundscould not be detected,and an obstetric scan was done with showed intrauterine device (IUD). Patient was shifted to ward for further management. Patient was managed further in coordination with haematologist. Adequate hydration was maintained,oxygen support was given,hydroxy urea 500mg was continued with folic acid supplementation, andextremes of temperature were avoided for the patient. Two more units of blood transfusion were given subsequently.


She was induced withprostaglandin.During induction patient developed transient tachycardiawith hypotension and chest discomfort,in view of which she was shifted back to MICU. Bedside 2D ECHO showed mitral regurgitation,mildly dilated left atrium,normal sized chambers,good left ventricular and right ventricular function. In MICU close monitoring was done for the patient.


In MICU, she delivered a dead female fetus of 900gms with oneliter of retro-placental clots (Figure 1)at 2:50 am on 23-03-2016. Post expulsion, patient was observed in MICU for 6hours,after stabilization she was shifted back to ward. Patient wasobserved in ward for 4 days and discharged on 5th day in stable condition with haemoglobin of11.1gm%. She was put on antibiotics with an advice to continue hydroxyurea 500mg twice a day along withfolic acid. She was counselled to avoid pregnancy for the next 6 monthsand was advised copper-T insertion after 6 weeks post-partum.She was given prenatal counselling.


Patient was reviewed in outpatient department (OPD) after one week,patient’s condition was fair.Haemotologist advised her to continue hydroxyurea 500mg twice a day,folic acid supplementation and reviewafter a month.

Figure 1: Shows placenta with retroplacental clots.




Pregnancy exacerbates the preexisting pathophysiological characteristics of sickle cell disease (SCD): anemia, increased risk of infection, vaso-occlusion and pro-coagulant profile [16]. Interestingly the plasma levels of the placental growth factor, which rise throughout the pregnancy, are already elevated at baseline in SCD and have been associated with the frequency of acute pain episodes[17]. Therefore pregnancy is associated with increased incidence of painful crisis, infections, pulmonary complications, thromboembolic events, and antepartum bleeding, even in women who previously had few symptoms[18].


Awareness of these risks make it mandatory to manage these patients in centres where excellence in obstetrics, sickle cell disease, intensive care and transfusion management are available. A preliminary step must be pre-conceptional counseling, testing the partner, and clearly explaining the risks of pregnancy. A complete work up of clinical condition of the mother is mandatory, including heart, lung, renal and ophthalmology examination. Pregnant women need to be followed by both obstetric team that is knowledgeable in treatment of women with SCD and by sickle cell team.


More research is needed with good quality, population based observational studies that are large enough to have sufficient power to assess rare outcomes and with a prospective design to ensure the quality of case ascertainment and of information collected. A better understanding of the reasons for the death of mothers and babies will allow relevant strategies for interventional studies[19].



Sickle cell anemia in pregnancy needs to be addressedand has to be managed by both obstetric team and haematologist in co-ordination. Pre-conceptional counseling plays a key role in decreasing maternal and fetal complications in sickle cell anemia in pregnancy.



The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Secunderabad.


Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.





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