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Do you know someone with sickle cell disease?

Teacher helping young girl readFind out how teachers and others can help children with this condition.

New Tool for Teachers

CDC has created a new booklet for teachers of students with sickle cell disease (SCD), Tips for Supporting Students with Sickle Cell Disease [969 KB].

This booklet:

  • describes SCD and identifies roles for teachers, other school staff and parents/caregivers to support students living with SCD
  • identifies ways SCD may impact a student's daily life and describe how school staff can make accommodations (i.e., adjustments to the classroom setting or instruction) to meet the needs of children who may experience health problems associated with SCD during the school day
  • provides information on ways SCD might impact education outcomes and information about pain, stroke, and symptoms associated with SCD that school personnel should know

View and print the booklet, Tips for Supporting Students with Sickle Cell Disease [969 KB]

Young boy drinking glass of water

Ensure children have adequate access to water for hydration.

Tips for Teachers, Nurses, and School Administrators

To help children with SCD, teachers, nurses, and administrators can:

  1. Ensure adequate access to water/hydration.
  2. Allow frequent bathroom breaks.
  3. Allow accommodations during cold, damp temperatures and conditions.
  4. Allow accommodations during physical education and recess activities.
  5. Take special care of injuries.
  6. Watch for signs of stroke.
  7. Be aware of emotional well-being.
  8. Maintain open communication with parents.

Tips for Parents and Other Caregivers

Parents and caregivers can:

  1. Set up a meeting to discuss SCD with your child's teacher.
  2. Talk to teachers about a 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
  3. Develop an individualized care plan.
  4. Tell teachers about changes in your child's health.

About Sickle Cell Disease

SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a "sickle." The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.

People with SCD can live full lives and enjoy most of the activities that other people do. If you have students with SCD in your school, learn how you can help these students perform at their best and reduce their chances of developing a health problem related to their condition.

A Public Health Priority

SCD is a common inherited blood disorder in the United States, affecting an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 Americans. SCD can lead to lifelong disabilities and reduce average life expectancy. In addition, the financial cost of SCD is high, both to people with the disease and to the health care system. Costs for hospital stays due to complications of SCD were estimated at $488 million in 2004.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Division of Blood Disorders considers SCD a major public health concern and is committed to conducting surveillance, raising awareness, and promoting health education.

References

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Statistical Brief #21 [1.4 MB]: Sickle Cell Disease Patients in U.S. Hospitals, 2004. Accessed December 2, 2009.

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