BACKGROUND: Traditionally, sickle cell trait has not been associated with a higher risk of fetal death, but we noted several, which led us to assess all such pregnancies. METHODS: In this retrospective study, 131 patients with sickle cell trait were analyzed over a two-year period. The Institutional Review Board approved the collection of deidentified data. RESULTS: Subjects were African-American with an average age of 23.9 years, and average gestational age at delivery of 30.1 weeks. There were 10 (8.13%) intrauterine fetal deaths (IUFDs), and one neonatal death. Ascending amniotic fluid infection was noted in 50% and 92% meconium histocytes. All placentas had sickling in the intervillous space and the decidual vessels. CONCLUSIONS: Sickling in the decidual vessels and poor placental perfusion may play a role in pregnancy loss in excess of what has previously been reported. A cohort control study appears to be in order. NARRATIVE: Pregnant women with sickle cell trait are thought not to have increased maternal or fetal mortality/morbidity. Over a two year period, we studied 131 women with this hemoglobinopathy and found that 10.6% had intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), 8.4% preterm premature rupture of the membranes, 8.1% intrauterine fetal demise (n = 10) at most occurring at 16 to 24 weeks, and one neonatal death. Amniotic fluid infection was noted in 50%, and meconium histocytes indicating intrauterine hypoxia were noted, as was unsuspected sickling in the placental vasculature. Based on this case series, sickle cell trait may not be as benign for the fetus as was previously thought.
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