The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Sickle cell trait is a young-adult and teenage cause of death


1Anthropology, Federal University of Para, 2Anthropology, University of South Florida

April 17, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

In 2013, we presented a poster which summarized the number of deaths due to sickle cell trait (SCT) in the USA between 2000-2010 (n=74). De-identified data are not available from the CDC after 2010 because the CDC does not provide information if fewer than 10 people died in a single year. We gathered data on SCT deaths from: Thorgmantin et al., 2011 and Crowder et al., 2018. The total number of SCT-related deaths from these sources is n=19, distributed as follows: 4 under police “care” or due to violence, 3 while playing American football, 7 while playing other sports and 5 from other causes. Since these publications, there have been two deaths of young army recruits thus raising the number of deaths to n=21. In this sample of 21 individuals the mean-age-at-death was 23 years, ranging from 11 to 43. Notably,14.30% died under 14 and 14.30% died between 15-19 years of age. Twelve out of 21 died between 20 and 24, which is both when they attend college or the armed forces. Stovitz and Shrier (2012) argued that estimates of risk should be presented by ethnicity, since most individuals who died due to SCT in sports were African-American. This may very well be the case. However, a bio-cultural anthropological view of this cause of death demands that we look at it as a young adult and teenage killer. We wonder if the reason it has not received attention before is because most of the dead have unfortunately been African American.