Painful episodes have been identified as one of the most frequent manifestations of sickle cell anemia (hemoglobin HbSS). This retrospective study compared the frequency of hospitalization and the academic performance of two groups of children with HbSS (ages 8 to 18 years) with differing frequencies of pain. A high frequency (HF) group (n = 10) was composed of children who had four or more hospitalizations for pain in the study period; those in the low frequency (LF) group (n = 11) had one or no hospitalizations for pain during the study period. The two groups were matched on age (within 6 months), gender, and ethnicity. Standardized assessments of academic achievement and school records of attendance and class grades were obtained for all participants. The standardized academic achievement for both groups was approximately one standard deviation below the normative mean of the population sample, and class grades were below a C average. School absence was frequent in both groups (LF mean = 16.8 days/year; HF mean = 35.4 days/year), and children in the HF group had significantly more absences than children in the LF group. The lack of difference in academic performance between the two groups suggests that there may be factors other than school absenteeism that affect academic achievement, which require further investigation.
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