• Platelet Function Disorders in Children

    Platelets are cells that circulate in the blood stream and help the blood to clot. When a child has a platelet function disorder, their blood may not be able to clot normally which results in an increased risk of bleeding.

    • Platelet function disorders may be acquired as a result of an external factor like another illness or medication.
    • Platelet function disorders can also be caused by a genetic mutation, in which case the children are born with the disorder.

    Platelet Function Disorder Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

    Children with all types of abnormal platelet function are treated through the Platelet Function Disorders Program within the Blood Disorders Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s.

    • Our program includes pediatric hematologists with specialized expertise in diagnosing and treating all types of childhood platelet disorders.
    • We provide comprehensive care to children and adolescents, including access to the most recent treatments and to unique clinical trials.
    • Our team includes world renowned researchers who are seeking to better understand and treat pediatric platelet disorders.

    What are the symptoms of platelet function disorders?

    The most common symptoms of platelet function disorders are:

    • purpura (purple color of the skin after blood has leaked under it forming a bruise, often from no known trauma)
    • petechiae (tiny red dots under the skin that are a result of very small bleeds into the skin)
    • nosebleeds
    • bleeding in the mouth and/or in and around the gums
    • blood in vomit, urine or stool
    • bleeding in the head (most dangerous symptom that can be life-threatening, usually prompted by head trauma)

    How are platelet function disorders diagnosed?

    Platelet function disorders can be identified through the following tests:

    • careful review of your child’s history, including medications
    • complete blood count
    • examination of the blood under the microscope by an expert pediatric hematologist
    • blood tests of platelet function
    • genetic tests

    What are platelet function disorder treatment options?

    If your child has a platelet function disorder, these treatments may be considered:
    • A number of medicines can help reduce the risk of bleeding.
    • Platelet transfusions can be given if necessary.
    • In the most severe cases, bone marrow transplantation is an option.

    Caring for a child with a platelet function disorder

    Preventing serious bleeding is a very important aspect of care. Parents should consider:

    • padding your child's crib
    • restricting certain contact sports and rough play
    • avoiding medications that may interfere with platelet function and may cause bleeding, including aspirin, ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, naproxen, Naprosyn, Aleve, and more

    What is the latest platelet function disorders research?

    Physician-scientists at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s are world leaders in research into platelet function disorders and are active members of The Center for Platelet Research Studies, an internationally recognized multidisciplinary center for the study of platelet function by state of the art methods. The center undertakes basic, translational, and clinical research, including clinical trials of drugs, devices, and tests.

    Clinical Trials
    For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.