Regular Blood Transfusions Can Stave Off Repeat Strokes in Children With Sickle Cell Disease
Boston, MA - Monthly blood transfusions can substantially reduce the risk of recurrent strokes in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) who have already suffered a silent stroke, according to the results of an international study by investigators at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Vanderbilt University and 27 other medical institutions.
Results of the federally funded research described in the Aug. 21 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, show that children with preexisting silent strokes who receive monthly transfusions have 58 percent lower risk of suffering repeat silent, as well as overt strokes.
Because silent strokes cause subclinical brain injury that diminishes a child’s cognitive abilities and academic performance, the research team recommends that all children with SCD have at least one MRI brain scan by the time they enter elementary school. MRI testing is the only way to diagnose silent strokes. Children with evidence of past silent strokes are candidates for monthly blood transfusions, a treatment decision that a hematologist should make in tandem with the family and the child’s pediatrician, the investigators say.
“The results of our study show that blood transfusions can play a critical role in preventing this insidious and potentially devastating condition. They also highlight the importance of intervening early to preclude ongoing or further brain injury among these youngsters,” says James F. Casella, M.D., vice chair for the clinical trial and the director and Rainey Professor of Pediatric Hematology at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Continue>
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