Your Health 12-28-12 Sickle cell tests for athletes

All division 1 college athletes may now have to get tested for a sickle cell trait as part of their physical.

The screening is a controversial issue as experts say they now know that carrying the sickle cell trait poses a substantial health risk.

The mandatory screening would be for anyone hoping to participate in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletics.

Health experts say having the sickle cell trait is different from having sickle cell disease, which is characterized by abnormal red blood cells that can lead to anemia, pain, infection, and organ damage.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that most people with the trait never show signs or symptoms of the disease,.

The sudden death of a college football player with the sickle cell trait prompted the NCAA policy in 2010.

Division I athletes who were tested at birth can opt out.

Athletes also can refuse the test.#