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A Policy Impact Analysis of the Mandatory NCAA Sickle Cell Trait Screening Program

Keywords: Sickle cell trait;National Collegiate Athletic Association;screening;sudden death;athletes

Objective: To estimate the impact of the mandatory National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sickle cell trait (SCT) screening policy on the identification of sickle cell carriers and prevention of sudden death.

Study Design: We estimated the number of sickle cell carriers identified and the number of potentially preventable sudden deaths with mandatory SCT screening of NCAA Division I athletes. We calculated the number of student-athletes with SCT using a conditional probability based upon SCT prevalence data and self-identified race/ethnicity status. We estimated sudden deaths over 10 years based on published attributable risk of exercise-related sudden death due to SCT.

Principle Findings: We estimate that over 2,000 NCAA Division I student-athletes with SCT will be identified under this screening policy and that, without intervention, about seven NCAA Division I student-athletes would die suddenly as a complication of SCT over a 10-year period.

Conclusions: Universal sickle cell screening of NCAA Division I student-athletes will identify a substantial number of sickle cell carriers. A successful intervention could prevent about seven deaths over a decade.

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