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Adult Sickle Cell Drug May Benefit Kids, Too
Date:12/12/2011

o. The study, called Baby Hug, found that children on hydroxyurea had fewer pain crises, acute chest syndrome events, blood transfusions and hospital admissions.

Parents of the 176 children who completed at least 18 months of the Baby Hug study were offered a chance to participate in the current follow-up study, sponsored by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. One hundred and sixty-three children continued in the study.

All the children had the chance to take hydroxyurea in the follow-up study. One hundred and thirty three parents chose the drug.

Researchers have seen each child every six months, and now have 36 months of follow-up data. Rogers said the researchers have almost 500 patient-years of follow-up information.

As with the initial study, the follow-up study saw fewer ER visits for pain crises, transfusions and hospital admissions. For each 100 patient-years, the study found 28.8 emergency room visits for pain crises for those children on hydroxyurea, compared to 53.6 for those on a placebo. For transfusions, there were 18.3 per 100 patient-years for kids on the medication, versus 35.9 for those on a placebo. There were 72.9 hospital admissions per 100 patient-years for those receiving treatment, and 131.7 for those taking a placebo.

The follow-up also found fewer illnesses with fever -- 28.5 per 100 patient years for kids on the drug and 61.5 for children not taking the drug.

"The benefits outweigh the risks for hydroxyurea when administered under supervision," said Dr. Lakshmanan Krishnamurti, director of hematology and hemoglobinopathy at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "This study [offers] a ray of hope and shows us a way to move forward. I hope it leads to change in how physicians think about patients with sickle cell disease. Families can undertake medications and they will come for monitoring."

"We know what 30 years of sickle cell does to a body," Krishnamurti added. "This study shift
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