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.

Our approach to immune thrombocytopenia at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

Children and young adults with immune thrombocytopenia are treated through the Blood Disorders Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, where children and teens receive care from some of the world’s most experienced hematologists with deep experience in the conditions they treat.

Find in-depth information on immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's website, including answers to:

  • What is ITP?
  • How do you diagnose ITP in children?
  • How do you treat ITP in children?
  • What is the latest research on ITP?
  • What is the long-term outlook for children with ITP?

For information on ITP written specifically for children and teens, visit our ITP Kids pages.