April 13, 2010

NCAA May Screen Athletes with Sickle Cell: Out of the 21 college athletes who collapsed and died during training the past decade, eight had the sickle cell trait, a genetic disorder that can become fatal unexpectedly during exercise. An NCAA proposal to test for the trait is being resisted by the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, which fears it could cost the afflicted athletes the chance to compete. "A lot of the kids who have died, they've known they have sickle-cell trait and they still run them to death," said Dr. William Roberts, coauthor of recommendations for preseason physicals. "It should just be a change in the training program to protect everyone and not just the kids with sickle."

posted by rcade to general at 11:11 AM - 5 comments

From the article:

During extreme exercise, some blood cells in an athlete with sickle-cell trait elongate into sickle shapes that can disrupt blood flow to parts of the body, potentially causing damage. Heat, altitude and dehydration increase the risk of sickling, according to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, which recommends easing athletes into workouts, giving them regular breaks and modifying intense conditioning tests.

The recommendations for exercise for those with sickle cell trait seem like good general practices anyway. I don't think people should be singled out. I believe it is illegal for employers (like the NFL) to do genetic testing.

posted by bperk at 11:21 AM on April 13, 2010

thanks for this, rcade.

posted by smithers at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2010

Ryan Clark for the Steelers has this. I am not sure if we talked about him last season when he sat out a game in Denver due to sickle cell. He had to have his spleen and gallbladder removed and almost die when he played there a fews years back. I think testing for this would be very inportant in college especially if you play teams from Colorado.

posted by Debo270 at 01:46 PM on April 13, 2010

I don't think people should be singled out. I believe it is illegal for employers (like the NFL) to do genetic testing.

Would it be ok if they suggest to all their black players that they get the testing done on their own and then choose to share it with team management and medical personnel? The testing is the only way to determine if they have this condition or not. Would you prefer they keep their privacy and run the risk of unncessary death?

posted by irunfromclones at 07:12 PM on April 13, 2010

I can understand the benefits, but there are some pretty big implications to testing too. If every potential NCAA athlete was screened for sickle cell by the NCAA, would schools allow any of them to compete? Would their insurers? Genetic testing for this and other conditions could end up disqualifying a lot of athletes.

posted by rcade at 08:57 PM on April 13, 2010

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