Sickle Cell Program

UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is one of four medical centers funded by Pennsylvania’s Division of Maternal and Child Health to receive newborn sickle cell screening test results. Since 1978, Children’s has been identifying children with sickle cell disease and providing children and parents with counseling, follow-up care and further genetic testing. Currently, Children’s hematologists and oncologists care for 250 children, teens and young adults up to 21 years of age with sickle cell disease.

The goal of UPMC Children’s Hospital Sickle Cell Program is to identify children with sickle cell disease as early as possible and effectively manage their condition to adulthood. An expert team of medical professionals who specialize in hematology/oncology make up the Sickle Cell Program staff. The team includes physicians, clinical nurse specialists, social workers and behavioral health specialists. Children’s offers two sickle cell clinics each week, and staff travel to two satellite clinic locations three times each year.

Children’s also is actively involved in both institutional and national studies that are investigating sickle cell disease and its management in an effort to improve the care of children with the disease. In addition, Children’s hematologists provide training for community physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, school officials and others regarding the proper treatment of children with sickle cell disease.

Newborn Screening for Sickle Cell Disease

In Pennsylvania, a newborn screening for hemoglobinopathies (abnormalities of hemoglobin), such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, began formally in September 1992. Newborns diagnosed with an abnormality are referred to three treatment centers: UPMC Children’s, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s of Philadelphia.