Conference Coverage

Bleeding disorder diagnoses delayed by years in girls and women



Diagnosis of bleeding disorders in girls and women can lag behind diagnosis in boys and men by more than a decade, meaning needless delays in treatment and poor quality of life for many with hemophilia or related conditions.

“There is increasing awareness about issues faced by women and girls with inherited bleeding disorders, but disparities still exist both in both access to diagnosis and treatment,” said Roseline D’Oiron, MD, from Hôpital Bicêtre in Paris.

“Diagnosis, when it is made, is often made late, particularly in women. Indeed, a recent study from the European Hemophilia Consortium including more than 700 women with bleeding disorders showed that the median age at diagnosis was 16 years old,” she said during the annual congress of the European Association for Haemophilia and Allied Disorders.

She said that delayed diagnosis of bleeding disorders in women and girls may be caused by a lack of knowledge by patients, families, and general practitioners about family history of bleeding disorders, abnormal bleeding events, and heavy menstrual bleeding. In addition, despite the frequency and severity of heavy bleeding events, patients, their families, and caregivers may underestimate the effect on the patient’s quality of life.

Disparities documented

Dr. D’Oiron pointed to several studies showing clear sex-based disparities in time to diagnosis. For example, a study published in Haemophilia showed that in 22 girls with hemophilia A or hemophilia B, the diagnosis of severe hemophilia was delayed by a median of 6.5 months compared with the diagnosis in boys, and a diagnosis of moderate hemophilia in girls was delayed by a median of 39 months.

In a second, single-center study comparing 44 women and girls with mild hemophilia (factor VIII or factor XI levels from 5 to 50 IU/dL) with 77 men and boys with mild hemophilia, the mean age at diagnosis was 31.63 years versus 19.18 years, respectively – a delay of 12.45 years.

A third study comparing 442 girls/women and 442 boys/men with mild hemophilia in France showed a difference of 6.07 years in diagnosis: the median age for girls/women at diagnosis was 16.91 years versus10.84 years for boys/men.

Why it matters

Dr. D’Oiron described the case of a patient named Clare, who first experienced, at age 8, 12 hours of bleeding following a dental procedure. At age 12.5, she began having heavy menstrual bleeding, causing her to miss school for a few days each month, to be feel tired, and have poor-quality sleep.

Despite repeated bleeding episodes, severe anemia, and iron deficiency, her hemophilia was not suspected until after her 16th birthday, and a definitive diagnosis of hemophilia in both Clare and her mother was finally made when Clare was past 17, when a nonsense variant factor in F8, the gene encoding for factor VIII, was detected.

“For Clare, it took more the 8 years after the first bleeding symptoms, and nearly 4 years after presenting with heavy menstrual bleeding to recognize that she had a bleeding problem,” she said.

In total, Clare had about 450 days of heavy menstrual bleeding, causing her to miss an estimated 140 days of school because of the delayed diagnosis and treatment.

“In my view, this is the main argument why it is urgent for these patients to achieve diagnosis early: this is to reduce the duration [of] a very poor quality of life,” Dr. D’Oiron said.


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