Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)

Also known as: ITP, idiopathic thrombocytopenia, immune thrombocytopenic purpura

What is idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura?

"Idiopathic" means cause unknown. "Thrombocytopenia" means a low platelet count. Platelets are blood cells that help blood clot thereby stopping bleeding. "Purpura" is the purple color of the skin (like a bruise) seen when bleeding into the skin occurs. There are 2 forms of the blood disorder called Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP -Acute thrombocytopenic purpura or Chronic thrombocytopenic purpura.

What causes idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura?
Frequently the cause is unknown; often children will develop ITP after they have the mumps, the flu or another viral infection when it appears that the child's body makes "antibodies" to its own platelets (which destroys them).

What are the signs/symptoms of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura?
Bleeding problems (bruising, small dot like bleeds called petechia, nosebleeds, bleeding in the mouth or gums, vomiting blood or blood in the urine or stool and the most dangerous of bleeding which may occur, bleeding into the head) when the platelet count drops below 10,000 (normal count: 150,000- 450,000).

What are idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura care options?
In many children, the disease resolves on its own over time. In others, depending on a number of factors your pediatrician will discuss with you, medications that suppress the immune system’s destruction of platelets (like steroids, intravenous gamma globulin and others) may increase platelet count. In severe and/or persistent (and in children fairly rare) cases, surgery to remove the spleen, which is the source of platelet destruction may be considered.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 5/23/2018 10:14:39 AM


Upcoming Events

AYA Game Night

The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program at the Nicklaus Children's Cancer Center invites oncology patients 14 years of age and older to this fun event. Food and beverages will be provided. Learn more.

From the Newsdesk

Nicklaus Children's Hospital doctors cure children with rare blood disorder

Doctors in South Florida are performing a life-saving procedure for children born with a rare genetic condition: thalassemia.

How the Cancer & Blood Disorders Center Supports Families - Dr. Jorge Galvez Silva Explains
Dr. Jorge Galvez Silva is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist with the Cancer & Blood Disorders Center at Nicklaus Children's Hospital. For more information, please visit nicklauschildrens.org/cancer