Many children with sickle cell anemia not receiving vital therapy

A person holding a pill.

SCA is a disease that causes pain, stroke, and early death which can be reduced by the medication hydroxyurea. In 2014, the NHLBI published revised guidelines that hydroxyurea should be given to all children with SCA aged nine months and older.

Scientists looked at changes in hydroxyurea use in Michigan and New York among 4302 children with SCA before and after the release of the guidelines. A slight improvement was seen after the release, however, overall hydroxyurea use was low. On average, children were receiving hydroxyurea less than one-third of the days in a given year. The researchers found that a modest increase in usage was seen in Michigan, but not at all in New York. According to study authors, increasing the use of this vital therapy may require a multifaceted approach that addresses multiple system- and patient-level barriers.

The NHLBI-supported research published in JAMA Network Open.

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