Hemophilia, a genetic clotting disorder that is present at birth, is much more common in males than females. Babies born with hemophilia do not produce enough of a type of protein known as clotting factor and, as a result, experience excessive bleeding when injured or after any type of surgery. Bleeding may be internal or external and can range from mild to severe, depending on the nature of the condition and how much, if any, clotting factor is actually produced.

Treatment Options for Hemophilia

Since hemophilia is a chronic condition, treatment plans must be developed with a pediatric hematologist and maintained over the course of a lifetime. Children who are treated for hemophilia can usually participate in most normal activities, even sports, without risk of excessive bleeding, according to New Jersey-based pediatrician David Levine, MD, FAAP.

Rarely, hemophilia may also occur later in life. The cause of this type of acquired hemophilia is often unknown, but may be associated with cancer, immune system disorders, allergic reactions to medications, or even pregnancy.

There are different treatments and methods for managing hemophilia, depending on the age of the child, the severity of the condition, activity level, and other factors that vary from case to case. It is important to get the right treatment at the right time to avoid excessive blood loss as well as internal bleeding and swelling that causes joint and muscle damage.

Replacement Therapy. The main treatment for moderate to severe cases, known as replacement therapy, involves infusions to increase and maintain clotting factor, prevent bleeding, and hasten healing when a child has surgery or dental work.

Infusions. In cases of severe hemophilia, routine, at-home, self-infusions of clotting factor are usually prescribed to help a child live a relatively normal day-to-day life. The infusions may be given up to several times a week.

Combination Therapy. At times, additional medication may be prescribed along with replacement therapy to help formed blood clots stay intact.

Hormonal Treatments. Hormonal treatments in the form of injections or nasal sprays can help children with mild to moderate hemophilia engage in normal activities. The treatments are temporary and given for specific circumstances, such as playing contact sports or undergoing dental work.

Blood Transfusion. If there is a substantial loss of blood at some point, a transfusion may be required.

Treatment of hemophilia in very young children often includes preventative measures, such as padded clothing, helmets, soft toys, and good dental hygiene. The National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute also advises family members and others close to the child to watch out for signs of bleeding that may go unannounced by children who are trying to avoid treatment procedures.

David Levine, MD, FAAP, reviewed this article.




U.S. National Library of Medicine: Genetics Home Reference-Hemophilia

Naitonal Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: How is Hemophilia Treated?