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The red cell distribution width (RDW) has been studied during the clinical steady state in 1121 patients with homozygous sickle cell (SS) disease, 344 with sickle cell-haemoglobin C (SC) disease, 68 with sickle cell-beta+ thalassaemia, 49 with sickle cell beta 0 thalassaemia and in 130 control subjects with a normal (AA) genotype. The mean RDW was moderately increased in S beta + thalassaemia and SC disease and markedly increased in S beta 0 thalassaemia and SS disease. In SS, SC and S beta 0 thalassaemia genotypes, lower RDW values occurred in females and with alpha thalassaemia. The RDW correlated negatively with total haemoglobin, mean cell haemoglobin concentration, mean cell volume, and fetal haemoglobin (HbF) and positively with reticulocyte count in SS disease. A low RDW was associated with higher weight and less frequent dactylitis, painful crisis, acute chest syndrome, acute splenic sequestration, and hospital admissions. A low RDW in SS disease is consistent with a high total haemoglobin, high HbF, low reticulocyte count, alpha thalassaemia, and a more mild clinical course.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Lab Haematol

Publication Date





229 - 237


Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Anemia, Sickle Cell, Child, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Erythrocyte Indices, Erythrocytes, Abnormal, Female, Globins, Hemoglobin C Disease, Humans, Infant, Iron, Male, Middle Aged, Severity of Illness Index, Sex Factors, Sickle Cell Trait, Thalassemia