If a person has sickle cell disease (SCD), it is present at birth. But most infants do not have any problems from the disease until they are about 5 or 6 months of age. Every state in the United States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories requires that all newborn babies receive screening for SCD. When a child has SCD, parents are notified before the child has symptoms.
Some children with SCD will start to have problems early on, and some later. Early symptoms of SCD may include:
Painful swelling of the hands and feet, known as dactylitis. Fatigue or fussiness from anemia. A yellowish color of the skin, known as jaundice, or whites of the eyes, known as icteris, that occurs when a large number of red cells hemolyzeis present. The signs and symptoms of SCD will vary from person to person and can change over time. Most of the signs and symptoms of SCD are related to complications of the disease.