Midwest Child & Family Institute Encourages Participation in College Football Sickle Cell Study

NCAA-Funded Study Would Hold Athletic Community Accountable and Save Lives
NCAA-funded study will examine Sickle Cell Trait in college football players.
NCAA-funded study will examine Sickle Cell Trait in college football players.
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CHICAGO - June 24, 2013 - PRLog -- The Midwest Child & Family Institute is encouraging both current and former college football players with the Sickle Cell Trait to participate in a research study by the University of South Florida.  

The athletic study, which is funded by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, seeks to determine how genes that surround the SCT gene may affect the health of those with SCT. The study was undertaken in response to recent health problems and unexplained and sudden deaths of a number of SCT athletes.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people with SCT are more likely than those without SCT to experience heat stroke and muscle breakdown while playing under very high or low temperatures or conditions. Studies have shown that SCT athletes are less likely to experience illness or death while playing sports if they rest often in between repetitive sets, set their own pace and build intensity slowly, drink plenty of water before, during, and after playing, and keep their body temperature cool when exercising in hot and humid temperatures by misting the body with water or going to an air conditioned area during breaks or rest periods.

When Dr. Lorena Madrigal, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at the USF, traveled from Florida to speak at the MC&FI’s recent “Everyday Struggles with Sickle Cell Anemia” conference in Illinois she indicated the difficulty of getting athletes to participate in the study.  Madrigal attributed the lack of interest to the stigma attached to those with genetic diseases and a fear of being cut from the game or losing out on lucrative football contracts. However, Madrigal indicated that SCT is not and should not be a barrier to one’s participation in a sport.  

Madrigal believes participation in the NCAA study is important because it will help her and others understand why some, but not all, SCT athletes experience ill health during training.  Also, she indicated that the results of the study will help athletes, coaches, and trainers make more informed decisions regarding SCT athletes and take better precautions.

Athletes participating in the NCAA study will be asked to provide a genetic sample (a saliva swab test) so that the USF researchers can determine which one of five sickle cell mutations they carry.  The researchers will correlate the genetic data with the participants’ responses to a 15-minute survey on their experiences with heat illness, exertional sickling, and other symptoms.  The athletes’ genetic information will be anonymous and will not be used for any purpose other than the research study and will be immediately destroyed once it has been analyzed.  

If you would like to participate in the NCAA’s football study or know of someone who is interested in participating, please contact Carroll Flansburg, principal investigator, USF, at 802-233-8547 or cflansbu@mail.usf.edu.  You may also contact Dr. Lorena Madrigal, professor, Department of Anthropology, USF, at 813-974-0817 or madrigal@cas.usf.edu.  

About SCT
SCT trait is a genetic disorder whereby a person inherits one sickle cell gene and one normal gene. People with SCT usually do not have any of the symptoms of sickle cell disease (SCD), but they can pass the trait on to their children.  Also, it has been reported that the cells of a person with SCT can suddenly warp into sickle shapes during intense exercise which can block blood vessels and deprive the person’s vital organs and muscles of oxygen.  More than 4 million people in the United States and more than 300 million people worldwide have SCT.  Also, while the trait can affect anyone, the trait is mostly common among those whose ancestors came from sub-Saharan Africa; Spanish-speaking regions in the Western Hemisphere (South America, the Caribbean, and Central America); Saudi Arabia; India; and Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

About the Midwest Child & Family Institute
The Midwest Child & Family Institute provides research, information, and technology solutions to child welfare professionals.  We also host educational workshops and seminars on health issues and provide training and development on a range of topics, including but not limited to, service delivery and accreditation and licensing standards.  Some of our clients rely on us for Department of Children and Family Services’ audit preparedness and workflow analysis and re-engineering.

About the University of South Florida’s Educational Initiative on Sickle Cell Trait for the Athletic Population and the NCAA-Funded Study on College Football Players with Sickle Cell Trait
The University of South Florida launched a web-based educational initiative for the athletic population to educate coaches, healthcare professionals, parents, and student-athletes on Sickle Cell Trait and the prevention of sudden death. To learn more about the initiative, visit http://health.usf.edu/medicine/orthopaedic/sicklecell/index.html.  The USF is also conducting a research study funded by the National Collegiate Athletic Association on college football players with the Sickle Cell Trait.  The study seeks to determine how genes that surround the SCT gene may affect the health of those with SCT.  To learn more about the study or participate, visit http://health.usf.edu/NR/rdonlyres/0704477C-DF83-492B-AFDC-335E86291DF8/43326/SCT_football_study.pdf.
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