The analysis of 179 patients who completed at least 18 months of the study are children in the placebo group, those not receiving hydroxyurea, was almost twice as many episodes of acute pain, were three times more likely to suffer from a disease similar pneumonia known as acute chest syndrome and five times more likely to develop a painful swelling of the hands and toes, called dactylitis. They were also slightly more likely to be hospitalized or need a blood transfusion to relieve the symptoms of sickle cell anemia.For some months after the birth of children with sickle cell anemia continue to produce fetal hemoglobin, which causes red blood cells take the form of a crescent. But after birth, reduces the production of fetal hemoglobin and sickle hemoglobin increases, causing the symptoms of the disease appear. Hydroxyurea increases the production of non-sickling fetal hemoglobin, which moderates the severity of the symptoms of sickle cell anemia.

This is the first placebo-controlled, large-scale study of hydroxyurea for children ever, and the study focuses only on the use of the drug in preventing complications of sickle cell disease in children, said Thomas Howard, MD , professor of hematology / oncology and principal investigator of the study UAB, a practicing physician at the hospital for children. These results demonstrate hydroxyurea can potentially improve the life of the next generation of patients and probably will change the way we treat sickle cell disease in very young children.

Researchers searching for St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis led the Pediatric Hydroxyurea Phase III clinical trial, known as Baby HUG study. The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood, a National Institutes of Health.

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Sickle cell anemia is the most common genetic disease affecting African Americans and people with the strikes of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The most common side effects reported in this study was a slight to moderate decrease in neutrophil type white blood cells. Low level of neutrophils may be associated with an increased risk of infection, but there was no evidence of infection is increased in study participants. A follow-up is currently underway to verify the possible long-term benefits of continued treatment with higher doses of hydroxyurea.

Sickle cell anemia is the result of a mutation that causes red blood cells to produce sickle hemoglobin that forces red blood cells to assume a steep, crescent-shaped inflexible. Crescent cells can clog blood vessels triggering painful episodes, pneumonia, central nervous system, and even renal failure.