Current UK NSC recommendations > Sickle cell and Thalassaemia

The UK NSC recommendation on Sickle cell and Thalassaemia screening in pregnancy

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme recommended
Last review completed July 2006
Next review due in n/a

Evidence to support continuation or cessation of existing screening programmes should be reviewed regularly. The process for this is currently being revised, which is why this topic does not currently have a review date. The new process will be published in due course. Each programme has an active portfolio of research, evidence and audit to support continual improvement. Find out more about sickle cell and thalassaemia screening in England.

From April 2005, enhanced laboratory screening should be offered to all women in units defined as high prevalence. High prevalence is defined as a fetal prevalence of sickle cell disorder greater than 1.5 per 10,000 pregnancies.


From April 2007, all units defined as low prevalence (a fetal prevalence of sickle cell lower than 1.5 per 10,000 pregnancies) should offer screening using the recommended family origin question, as well as a formal process of inspection of routine blood indices to screen for thalassaemia.


Find general information about population health screening.

More about Sickle cell and Thalassaemia

Sickle Cell disorders are a group of inheritable genetic conditions in which there is an abnormality of the haemoglobin. Haemoglobin carries oxygen to the various organs of the body and is contained in the red blood cells. In the sickle cell disorders some of the red blood cells assume a sickle shape following the release of oxygen. This abnormal shape causes the cells to clump together making their passage through smaller blood vessels difficult, which may lead to blockage of these small blood vessels and an associated inflammatory reaction.

ß Thalassaemia major is a life threatening, genetically inherited, progressive anaemia common in the Mediterranean, Asian, South East Asian and Middle Eastern countries. 

» Read more about sickle cell and thalassaemia on NHS Choices

Screening in the UK

Compare how screening is offered across the UK.


• All Party Parliamentary Group for Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia
Faculty of Public Health
Genetic Alliance UK
Oscar Birmingham
Oscar Bristol
Oscar Trust
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Midwives
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
• Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia Association of Counsellors
• Sickle Cell Anaemia Relief Foundation
• Sickle Cell Anaemia Research
Sickle Cell Care Centre
Sickle Cell Society
• Sickle Cell Women's Welfare Association
• Sickle Watch
UK Thalassaemia Society

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

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