Delay in Growth and Puberty in Children with Sickle Cell Disease

Children with sickle cell disease usually grow and develop more slowly, even reaching puberty later than their peers. This growth delay is caused by having fewer red blood cells. Adults with sickle cell disease are also typically shorter and thinner than the general population. 

Is there anything that will help my child grow?

There are things you can do to help your child achieve the best possible health, height and weight:

  • Getting plenty of exercise and eating a well balanced diet is important.  Children with sickle cell disease need more calories, vitamins and minerals than other children.  This helps give them more energy and helps in making blood cells.  Eating a variety of meats, vegetables and fruits will provide a good supply of vitamins.  Your medical provider or nutritionist will be happy to discuss ways to improve your child’s diet.
  • A medication called hydroxyurea increases the hemoglobin level in most children with sickle cell disease.  A higher hemoglobin level indicates that more red blood cells are circulating in the body.  Red blood cells carry oxygen to all the tissues, bones and organs and affect growth.  Speak to your medical provider to find out if hydroxyurea is a good therapy for your child.