Yes. It is possible for doctors to diagnose sickle cell anemia before birth. This is done using a sample of amniotic fluid or tissue taken from the placenta. (Amniotic fluid is the fluid in the sac surrounding a growing embryo. The placenta is the organ that attaches the umbilical cord to the mother's womb.) This test can be done as early as the first few months of pregnancy. The test looks for the sickle cell gene, rather than the hemoglobin that the gene makes.