Sickle cell anaemia stalks Adivasis, says study

Bulk of Adivasi population of Telangana, AP is afflicted by the hereditary disease. Telangana is only second to Kerala, where 18 to 34 per cent of the Adivasi population is affected.

July 17, 2015 03:29 am | Updated 10:37 am IST - Hyderabad:

The bulk of Adivasi population living in the twin States is sickle cell anaemia affected, a National Institute of Immunohaematology study revealed. As 11 to 34 per cent of the Adivasis in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are afflicted by the disease, the two States rank second among their counterparts in the country.

Sickle cell anaemia is a hereditary disease where the disc shape of the red blood cell gets deranged to take a sickle shape. This happens as the sixth position of glutamic acid present in betaglobin (a part of haemoglobin) gets replaced with valine.

Telangana is only second to Kerala, where 18 to 34 per cent of the Adivasi population is affected by the sickle cell trait. In Madhya Pradesh, the incidence among indigenous population is 15 to 33 per cent, the Mumbai based institute’s study stated.

The institute had taken Adivasi population in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Assam into consideration. The autosomal recessive disorder, if undetected gets transmitted from one generation to another through parent carriers.

“The disease is transmitted from one generation to the next if both the parents have sickle cell haemoglobin traits in them,” Suman Jain, chief medical researcher, Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Society said. Sickle cell anaemia leads to jaundice and frequent ailments among children and adults.

Among the 23 districts in the two States, Adivasis in Adilabad, Khammam, Warangal, Mahbubnagar, East Godavari, Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam are the most affected by the disease.

Telangana Tribal Welfare Department has decided to conduct solubility test among 2.25 lakh Adivasi children in tribal welfare schools, intermediate colleges and hostels.

Our special correspondent adds:

It buffers them from fatal malaria

Mutated red blood cells of sickle cell anaemic patients act as a buffer preventing Plasmodium Falsciparum (PF), a fatal malarial trait, from causing deaths among Adivasis, a study by National Institute of Research in Tribal Health, Jabalpur, has revealed.

While 78 per cent of the Adivasis who are tested positive for malaria carry the Pf trait, incidence of death has been low due to the high prevalence of sickle cell anaemia. “Malaria prevalence is low in places where people are mostly afflicted by sickle cell anaemia. Clinical symptoms of malaria will also be less in sickle cell anaemia patients,” said Dr. Gyanchand, senior researcher from the Jabalpur institute.

The incidence of malaria is at 0.12 per cent per 100 persons among Telangana Adivasis and 0.3 per cent among Adivasis in Andhra Pradesh.

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