ITP is a blood disorder characterized by an abnormal decrease in the
number of platelets in the blood. Platelets are cells in the blood
that help stop bleeding. A decrease in platelets can result in easy
bruising, bleeding gums, and internal bleeding. The older name that is
still sometimes seen is idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.
Idiopathic means the cause is unknown.
Thrombocytopenia means a decreased number of platelets in the
Purpura refers to the purple discoloring of the skin, as with
The new name that is coming into use is immune thrombocytopenic
purpura. The word immune more accurately describes that ITP is
an immunologic disease where the body destroys its own platelets.
The parents of a child with the disorder need to be aware of how to
prevent injuries and bleeding. Consider the following:
For the young child, make the environment as safe as possible.
Padding a crib, wearing helmets, and providing protective clothing
are necessary when platelet counts are low.
riding bicycles, and rough play may need to be restricted.
Avoid medications which contain aspirin, as they may interfere
with the body's ability to control bleeding.
It is important to discuss with your child's doctor other
limitations necessary to prevent injuries in a child with ITP.
Long-term outlook for ITP
Although there is no known cause of ITP and there is no cure, the
prognosis for a child with ITP is very good.
Usually, the body stops making the antibodies that are attacking the
platelets and the disorder resolves on its own. The goal of treatment
is to keep the child's platelets in a safe range until the body
corrects the problem.
Overall, prevention of serious bleeding, such as head injuries, is
the most significant factor in prognosis. Providing a safe
environment, prompt medical attention, and continued medical care are
all necessary for a long-term, healthy prognosis.