Blood Clotting Disorders

Thrombophilia refers to a group of blood clotting disorders that cause blood to clot more easily than normal. In children without thrombophilia, an injury like a cut or scrape triggers natural chemicals in the bloodstream called clotting factors to form a sticky clot that covers the injury in the blood vessel. Other natural chemicals are also triggered to keep blood from clotting too much.

In children with thrombophilia, there is an imbalance of these chemicals, which can cause unnecessary blood clots called thromboses. Children can be born with thrombophilia as an inherited condition, or may acquire it later in life due to other medical problems.

The pediatric hematologists at the Children’s Blood and Cancer Center are equipped with the most advanced diagnostic and treatment tools needed to screen for inherited thrombophilias and manage blood-thinning medications for effective long-term treatment.

Wellness and Prevention

When unwanted blood clots form, these can lead to other complications like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism. Clots can form anywhere in your child’s body, and can be present in veins or arteries. Some of the common symptoms of blood clots to look for include:

  • Leg pain, swelling or redness due to DVT, which often occurs in the legs but can happen in any deep vein
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath or coughing up blood, which can be caused by pulmonary embolism
  • Headaches or abdominal pain due to an unusual clot in your child’s brain or stomach

Diagnosis

If your child has a blood clot, your doctor may screen him or her for inherited thrombophilias so that appropriate treatment can be provided. In order to screen for blood clotting disorders, a hematologist can perform a series of tests for an accurate diagnosis and to guide the best treatment approach. These tests may include:

  • Physical examination to assess any physical symptoms of a clot, such as pain, swelling or tenderness
  • Family history to determine if thrombosis is a genetic trait that may run in your family
  • Blood tests to look for the presence of various clotting factors and other important characteristics of your child’s blood that may indicate thrombophilia

Treatments

If your child’s blood clotting disorder is mild, treatment is not always needed. In other cases, thrombophilia is typically managed with medications and certain lifestyle changes to avoid complications.

Blood-Thinning Medications

Anticoagulant, or blood-thinning, medications like warfarin tablets and heparin injections are commonly used to treat clotting disorders. These medications work by interfering with your child’s blood clotting process to prevent unnecessary clots from forming. Work closely with a hematologist to help manage your child’s blood-thinning medications and to monitor his or her progress.

Lifestyle Changes

Promoting healthy lifestyle habits for your child can also be an important step in helping to prevent blood clotting complications. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet are great preventative habits to teach your child that will continue to benefit him or her into adulthood.

Aftercare

  • Children with inherited thrombophilias managed with the appropriate medication can typically lead happy, healthy lives. The type and severity of your child’s blood clotting disorder will determine his or her need for continued treatment. However, you should work with a pediatric hematologist to make sure that any blood-thinning medications that your child may be prescribed are properly managed and working the way that they’re supposed to.