Food insecurity is associated with lower quality of life in children and adolescents with sickle cell disease (SCD), according to research presented at the 2021 American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO) meeting.

Children with SCD are more likely than other children to live in food insecure homes. Given the known negative health effects of food insecurity, the study authors sought to determine whether food insecurity was associated with higher healthcare utilization or lower quality of life for children with SCD.

The observational study included 99 participants with SCD living on the south side of Chicago aged 5 to 24 years, with surveys to determine food insecurity, healthcare utilization, and quality of life. A total of 35% of patients screened positive for food insecurity, and 52% of all patients received SNAP benefits within the previous 12 months.

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All patients had similar self-reported healthcare utilization, but children with higher food insecurity scores had lower quality of life scores (P =.03). Quality of life scores also declined with age, with patients over age 18 reporting the lowest mean score.

Quality of life also had an inverse relationship to emergency room visits (P =.003), hospital stays (P =.002), and nights in the hospital (P =.001).

The lowest quality of life scores were associated with food insecurity, older age, and female patients.

Addressing food insecurity in children and young adults with SCD can be important to improving quality of life and other clinical outcomes for these patients.


Darlington W, Syed S, Wroblewski K, et al. Food insecurity, healthcare utilization, and quality of life in patients with sickle cell disease. Poster presented at: 2021 American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology meeting; April 21-23, 2021; virtual.