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Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence, gender differences, and time trends of sickle cell trait in Beirut, Lebanon. Another objective was to describe a new screening technique for sickle cell trait carriers.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study carried out at a private laboratory in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon between 2002 and 2014. The sickling test was carried out for each patient using two methods: the classical “sodium metabisulfite sickling test”, and the new “sickling test method” used in the private lab. As a confirmatory test, haemoglobin electrophoresis was run on a random sample of 223 cases who were found to be positive using the two sickling tests.
Results: A total of 899 cases were found to be positive for the sickle cell trait out of 184,105 subjects screened during the 12-year period, prevalence = 0.49% (95% CI: 0.46 – 0.52). Among the total sample, females were found to have higher prevalence, where no time trend over the studied period was noted. The haemoglobin electrophoresis method confirmed the results of this new sickling test technique among the random sample of the 223 cases.
Conclusion: We found that the prevalence of sickle cell trait is lower as compared to other Arab countries, higher in females, with no significant time trend. The sickle cell test was found to be an accurate, simple and cheap test which could be easily added as a requirement to the pre-marital testing to screen for sickle cell trait carriers.
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