Pediatric Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorders

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The board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric hematology/oncology specialists available through Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, have the experience and extensive training to treat hemophilia in children and teens, as well as Von Willebrand disease and other bleeding disorders.

Hemophilia and Other Bleeding Disorders in Children

Bleeding disorders affect the body’s clotting process (coagulation). Blood clotting usually involves as many as 20 different plasma proteins. These plasma proteins, called clotting factors, are named by Roman numerals. They work together to help the body clot blood.

When some of these plasma proteins are not present in the body, it can cause the body to bleed or clot too easily, depending on the bleeding disorder type. Types of bleeding disorders include:

  • Hemophilia
  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Platelet disorders, such as thrombocythemia, thrombocytosis, thrombocytopenia and platelet dysfunction
  • Clotting factor deficiencies (factors I to XIII)

Von Willebrand disease and hemophilia are the most common bleeding disorders.

What Is Hemophilia?

Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder in which one of the clotting factors is reduced or absent. The condition is inherited, meaning it is passed from parent to child. However, some children with hemophilia may have no family history of the condition. There are two types of hemophilia:

  • Hemophilia A: This is the most common type; it is a factor VIII deficiency
  • Hemophilia B: Less common than hemophilia A; a factor IX deficiency

Hemophilia can be considered mild, moderate or severe based on the clotting factors in the blood:

  • Mild: Children with more than 5% of factor levels
  • Moderate: Children with 1% to 5% of factor levels
  • Severe: Children with no factor VIII or factor IX

Hemophilia Treatment in Children

A Norton Children’s pediatric hematologist can work with you and your child to create a treatment plan unique to their condition and needs. Depending on your child’s hemophilia type and severity, treatments can include:

  • Antifibrinolytic medicines: These can help the blood clot firmer. These may be used at times after dental work or to treat nose or mouth bleeds.
  • Desmopressin: This medicine helps stimulate the body to release factor VIII levels. This medicine may be used for mild to moderate bleed events.
  • Emicizumab: An injectable medication for children with hemophilia A. It can mimic some of the functions of factor VII.
  • Factor replacement therapy: Children with moderate and severe cases of hemophilia can be treated with concentrated forms of factors VIII (for hemophilia A) and IX (for hemophilia B) via intravenous infusions.

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