Conditions + Treatments

Thrombocytopenia in Children

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Contact the Platelet Function Disorders Program

Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which there are too few platelets — the cells produced in the bone marrow that are needed for clotting. Thrombocytopenia may be caused by infections in the fetus or newborn such as rubella, syphilis, and bacterial or viral infections. It can also develop when a mother's immune system produces antibodies against the baby's platelets. Some medications taken by the mother or given to the baby can cause thrombocytopenia. Without enough platelets, there may be bleeding into the tissues. Bruising of the skin often occurs. With bleeding, the red blood cells break down, producing bilirubin. This substance builds up in the blood causing jaundice. Excessive bleeding, called hemorrhage, can be dangerous and can affect the brain and other body systems.

Patients with thrombocytopenia are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric hematology and oncology partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital.

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