Von Willebrand disease in children
Sanjay Shah, MD, is a Pediatric Hematologist at Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa.
Question: My daughter seems to bruise and bleed easily. Should I take her to a doctor to be checked?
Answer: It would be a good idea to have your daughter checked by a physician because of the problems that could be associated with these types of symptoms. Her physician can test to determine whether she has a bleeding disorder and how to best treat it.
If your child does have a blood disorder, it may be a disorder called von Willebrand disease (vWD).
A normal person’s blood will have a substance known as von Willebrand factor. This substance helps platelets stick to damaged blood vessels. It also carries the important clotting protein factor VIII in the blood. Children with von Willebrand disease have a problem with one or both of these blood components, which means they can have a harder time clotting after a cut or have issues with bruising.
The majority of people who have vWD never know they have it. The symptoms are usually so mild that people are rarely diagnosed. Children with type I vWD usually do not bleed spontaneously but can have:
- easy bruising
- frequent nose bleeds
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- significant bleeding with surgery
Children with type 1 vWD who have enough symptoms to be detected might be prescribed a form of medication called desmopressin. This medication can help cause temporary increases in von Willebrand factor levels.
Children with type 1 vWD should avoid unnecessary trauma such as contact sports as well as medications such as aspirin, which can affect bleeding. Please call your doctor immediately if your child experiences excessive or unexplained bleeding.