UT Southwestern researchers at Children's and at the National Institutes of Health-funded Southwestern Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center launched the study to try to determine whether problems from the disease in the first three years of life offered any indication of later problems.
They initially looked at whether some of the more common problems associated with sickle cell disease pain events, dactylitis and acute chest syndrome predicted early death or stroke. Researchers found that none of those factors result in higher risk.
But they did find that acute chest syndrome damaged lung tissue marked by fever, chest pain and difficulty breathing did correlate with recurrent episodes throughout the remainder of their childhood.
That may indicate a need for closer follow-up for those children and perhaps justify more aggressive treatment strategies.
Children hospitalized for acute chest syndrome and early painful events in the first three years also were at slightly higher risk for later painful episodes.
"Some doctors would think that if they have early pain, they are destined to have frequent pain later in life, but that's not necessarily the case," Dr. Quinn said.
The swelling condition dactylitis did not indicate any greater likelihood of pain episodes or lung disease up to adulthood, the UT Southwestern researchers found. "That finding in particular is at odds with other studies that showed that early dactylitis does predict later adverse outcomes," Dr. Quinn said.
Researchers reviewed cases of 264 children who are part of the Dallas Newborn Cohort, a unique patient pool started in 1983 when newborn screening for sickle cell disease was launched by the state. Researchers h
Contact: Russell Rian
UT Southwestern Medical Center