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H1N1 hits sickle cell kids hard

Cases found to be particularly acute in children with the chronic blood condition

NEW ORLEANS — Children with the blood condition known as sickle cell disease face an unusually high risk from infection by the H1N1 flu virus, scientists reported December 6 at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

In addition to fighting an ongoing battle with anemia, children with sickle cell disease have been shown to be 56 times more likely than other kids to be hospitalized for the seasonal flu, said hematologist John Strouse of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. In the new study, Strouse and his colleagues found that this risk may be even greater with the H1N1 strain of influenza.

Sickle cell disease is a hereditary condition in which red blood cells deform into a telltale crescent shape, thwarting circulation through capillaries and causing anemia, organ damage, pain and other problems. About 72,000 people in the United States have the condition.

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