In this section
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP, is a bleeding disorder resulting from a shortage of
platelets in the blood. Platelets are the blood cells that help
the blood to clot. If a child has a shortage of platelets then he
or she will bruise easily and may have other bleeding problems.
The disease is caused when the spleen and lymph tissues produce
antibodies against platelets. Antibodies are proteins that are
produced by the immune system. The antibodies destroy the platelets
in the spleen. We do not fully understand why the body has this reaction. In children, the disease is sometimes preceded by a
viral infection (e.g. a cold), and this seems to be a trigger for the
production of abnormal antibodies.
ITP is more common in children than adults. ITP occurs in one in every 10,000 children, so it is quite rare.
It is important for you to know that the risk of any serious
complication from ITP is very low.
In most children the condition will settle down quite quickly.
The platelet count is often up to safe levels within a week or two,
but it may take longer to fully return to normal. In a very small
number of children, the platelet count does not return to normal, even after six to 12 months. In these cases, further treatment may be
There are several treatment options which your child's doctor
The doctor will discuss the best treatment option for your
child. You may need to attend for blood tests every few days to
monitor the progress of the condition. It is important that you
attend all the follow up appointments.
Developed by the RCH Department of
General Medicine in consultation with
Haematology. First published 2004. Updated December