Treatments for Von Willebrand Disease in Children

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Contact the Boston Hemophilia Center

How is von Willebrand disease treated?

Children with von Willebrand disease are treated through the Boston Hemophilia Center, the largest hemophilia treatment center in New England. This federally funded center provides comprehensive medical evaluation and treatment, ongoing medical management, counseling and support, and access to new treatment approaches through clinical research.

Treatment of von Willebrand disease (vWD) may vary, depending on the type of vWD and the severity of the disease. If your child has mild vWD with no noticeable symptoms, treatment may only be needed intermittently, for surgery, tooth extraction or trauma.

The most commonly used treatments for von Willebrand disease  include:

  • Desmopressin (DDAVP)—This is a synthetic hormone that is given by an injection into a vein or through a nasal spray called Stimate®. DDAVP controls bleeding by releasing more von Willebrand factor from storage sites in the body into your bloodstream. It is usually effective for most patients with type 1 and some with type 2 vWD. Your physician will usually perform a DDAVP challenge on your child to evaluate the response to DDAVP.
  • Von Willebrand factor replacement therapies—This involves infusion of a concentrate of von Willebrand factor into a vein. This is usually recommended if your child does not respond to DDAVP, needs therapy for an extended time or has type 2 or type 3 vWD.
  • Birth control pills—These pills can help control heavy menstrual bleeding by boosting the amount of von Willebrand factor and factor VIII (another clotting factor) in the bloodstream.
  • Antifibrinolytic drugs—These medications, such as aminocaproic acid (Amicar®) or tranexamic acid help prevent the breakdown of blood clots. They may be used alone or together with DDAVP and von Willebrand factor replacement therapy.

If your child has vWD, anyone who takes part in her care—teacher, school nurse, daycare provider or coach—should be made aware of her condition.

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