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ATS: Hydroxyurea Can Up Lung Function in Sickle Cell Disease

Last Updated: May 18, 2016.

Hydroxyurea may help preserve lung function in children with sickle cell disease, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, held from May 13 to 18 in San Francisco.

WEDNESDAY, May 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Hydroxyurea may help preserve lung function in children with sickle cell disease, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, held from May 13 to 18 in San Francisco.

Anya McLaren, M.D., of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and colleagues assessed 94 patients (age 6 to 20) with sickle cell disease. All had their lung function periodically tested before and for four years after starting hydroxyurea.

Overall, the researchers found significant improvement in both forced expiratory volume in one second and forced expiratory flow at 25 to 75 percent after treatment. McLaren said clinician concerns about patient noncompliance and potential side effects may be the primary reasons hydroxyurea is underused.

"Long-term observational studies suggest beneficial effects without excessive damage to bone marrow, deleterious effects on growth and development, altered fertility, accumulation of mutations, or increased carcinogenicity," McLaren said in an American Thoracic Society news release. "Evidence that lung function may be better preserved while on hydroxyurea may encourage compliance and adherence to this medication for patients with sickle cell disease."

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