Protection from sickle cell retinopathy is associated with elevated HbF levels and hydroxycarbamide use in children


Elevated foetal haemoglobin (HbF) levels are protective against some manifestations of sickle cell anaemia but the impact on retinopathy is unknown. We report on 123 children with HbSS, 10·6% of whom developed retinopathy. Independent of hydroxycarbamide, children with a HbF <15% had 7·1-fold (95% confidence interval, 1·5-33·6) higher odds of developing retinopathy. In children treated with hydroxycarbamide, those with retinopathy had lower HbF levels compared to children without retinopathy (9% vs. 16%; P = 0·005). We report a protective benefit of elevated HbF regarding retinopathy, and our data suggests induction of HbF with hydroxycarbamide may prevent retinopathy in children. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Publication Title

British Journal of Haematology