Von Willebrand disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder like hemophilia. It is caused by a defect or deficiency of a blood-clotting protein, called the von Willebrand factor. The von Willebrand factor is essential for the beginning stages of clotting and acts like glue to help the platelets stick together and form a blood clot.
- Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in the United States, believed to affect 1 to 2 percent of the population.
- Von Willebrand disease is often compared to hemophilia. However, it is a different disease and is usually milder than hemophilia.
- It affects both boys and girls equally, while hemophilia mainly affects boys. A parent with vWD has a 50 percent chance of passing the gene to his or her child.
- Von Willebrand disease is a lifelong condition. With the available treatments, we can prevent excessive bleeding and help people lead normal, healthy lives.
How Boston Children's Hospital approaches von Willebrand disease
Your child will receive treatment for vWD at the Boston Hemophilia Center, the largest hemophilia program in New England.
- The Boston Hemophilia Center is a joint program between Boston Children's Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Pediatric patients are seen here at BCH.
- Our comprehensive care model ensures that every aspect of your child’s health is monitored by experienced pediatric caregivers.
- Our goal is to enable children with hemophilia and their families to manage the illness as independently as possible, and therefore to lead more normal, healthy lives.
Reviewed by Kapil Saxena, MD, and Ellis Neufeld, MD, PhD
© Boston Children’s Hospital 2013