Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP)

What is immune thrombocytopenia?

Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), previously called immune thrombocytopenia or idiopathic thrombocytopenia, is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body attacks its own platelets and destroys them too quickly. Platelets are a part of blood that helps control bleeding. ITP affects at least 3,000 children under the age of 16 each year in the United States.

While ITP often arises after a viral infection, for the majority of cases the cause is unknown. Luckily, acute ITP, the most common form, usually goes away on its own over the course of weeks or months, sometimes without treatment. Chronic ITP appears most frequently in adults, but occasionally is seen in children. This form of ITP is more serious, lasting for years and typically requiring specialized follow-up care.

How we treat immune thrombocytopenia

Children with autoimmune hemolytic anemia receive treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Rare Anemias and Iron Disorders Program. Our patients have access to the broadest set of blood disorder expertise and pediatric subspecialties available.

The breadth of our expertise allows us to assemble a team of specialists to meet the specific needs of the patient. Our treatment teams are led by a pediatric hematologist who specializes in inherited iron deficiency disorders, as well as nurse practitioners and physician assistants who specialize in treating anemias, hemoglobinopathies, and red blood cell disorders.