March has been designated “Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month.” This observance was originally made a National Health Observance in 1986 as “Hemophilia Awareness Month” but was broadened to include other bleeding disorders in 2016. We reached out to Joseph Lasky III, one of our board-certified pediatric hematology/oncology physicians at Cure 4 The Kids Foundation for a few thoughts on bleeding disorders:
Bleeding disorders are relatively common, especially when you include the most common type of inherited bleeding disorder, von Willebrand disease (VWD) which is thought to be as common as 1 out of every 100 individuals. The less common but more severe bleeding disorder hemophilia occurs in about 1 in 5000 individuals and generally presents in infancy and only severely affects males (due to being inherited on the X chromosome).
VWD on the other hand, is more likely to be symptomatic in women due to its association with heavy menstrual bleeding. Unfortunately, because it is under-recognized by primary doctors as well as obstetrician/gynecologists, one study that surveyed women with bleeding problems documented an average of 16 years between the onset of bleeding and the diagnosis of VWD or other bleeding disorder. Nearly one-quarter of women in this study underwent a hysterectomy which might have been prevented had the bleeding disorder been recognized.
We believe this underscores the need for more education and awareness about the prevalence of these disorders and making sure that primary care, ob/gyn and other involved physicians consider these diagnoses so that a rapid referral to a hematologist experienced in caring for these disorders is initiated.
If you or anyone you know may be affected by a bleeding disorder, we encourage you to have it checked out. You can get additional information about bleeding disorders, and access a video that goes into additional detail on the subject here: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/index.html.
At the Hemophilia Treatment Center of Nevada we diagnose and treat bleeding disorders of all kinds for children and adults. If you would like to learn more about bleeding disorders or want to set up an appointment, please contact the HTC at 702-732-1493.