From the Journals

First year of life sees initial bleeding episodes in children with von Willebrand disease



To remedy a lack of data on infants and toddlers with von Willebrand disease (VWD), researchers examined data on patients collected from the U.S. Hemophilia Treatment Center Network. They examined birth characteristics, bleeding episodes, and complications experienced by 105 patients with VWD who were younger than 2 years of age.

For these patients, the mean age of diagnosis was 7 months, with little variation by sex. Patients with type 2 VWD were diagnosed earlier than those with types 1 or 3 (P = .04), and those with a family history of VWD were diagnosed approximately 4 months earlier than those with none (P < .001), according to the report by Brandi Dupervil, DHSC, of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues.

Approximately 14% of the patients were born preterm and 13% had low birth weight, proportions that were higher than national preterm birth rates (approximately 12% and 8%, respectively). There was no way of knowing from the data whether this was due to the presence of VWD or other factors, according to the report (Blood Adv. 2021;5[8]:2079-86).

Specialized care

The study found that initial bleeding episodes were most commonly oropharyngeal, related to circumcision, or intracranial or extracranial, and that most initial bleeding episodes occurred within the first year of life, according to the researchers.

Overall, there were 274 bleeding episodes among 73 children, including oral/nasal episodes (38 patients experienced 166 episodes), soft tissue hematomas (15 patients experienced 57 episodes), and head injuries, including skull fractures (13 patients experienced 19 episodes), according to the report.

In terms of treatment, among the two-thirds of the patients who had intervention to prevent or treat bleeding, most received either plasma-derived VW factor/factor VIII concentrates or antifibrinolytics.

Overall, the researchers advocated a team approach to treating these children “including genetic counselors throughout the prepartum period who work to increase expectant mothers’ understanding of the risks associated with having a child with VWD.”

They also recommended the input of “adult and pediatric hematologists, obstetrician gynecologists, genetic counselors, nurses, and social workers throughout the pre- and postpartum period who seek to optimize outcomes and disease management.”

The authors reported that they had no competing interests.

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