Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date





Volume 8, Issue 8

Inclusive Pages

Article number e70794



Among older children with sickle cell anemia, leukocyte counts, hemoglobin, and reticulocytosis have previously been suggested as disease severity markers. Here we explored whether these blood parameters may be useful to predict early childhood disease severity when tested in early infancy, defined as postnatal ages 60–180 days.

Study Design

Data from fifty-nine subjects who were followed at Children’s National Medical Center’s Sickle Cell Program for at least three years was retrospectively analyzed. Comparisons were made between white blood cell counts, hemoglobin and reticulocyte levels measured at ages 60–180 days and the clinical course of sickle cell anemia during infancy and childhood.


A majority of subjects had demonstrable anemia with increased reticulocytosis. Only increased absolute reticulocyte levels during early infancy were associated with a significant increase in hospitalization during the first three years of life. Higher absolute reticulocyte counts were also associated with a markedly shorter time to first hospitalizations and a four-fold higher cumulative frequency of clinical manifestations over the first three years of life. No significant increase in white blood cell counts was identified among the infant subjects.


These data suggest that during early infancy, increased reticulocytosis among asymptomatic SCA subjects is associated with increased severity of disease in childhood.


Reproduced with permission of PLoS ONE

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