Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
United Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
Von Willebrand disease, or VWD, is a genetic (inherited) bleeding disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly. Bleeding disorders (including hemophilia) are rare. Von Willebrand disease is the most common bleeding disorder, and affects males and females equally.
Normally, when a blood vessel is cut or torn, bleeding stops because of the blood’s ability to clot (to plug the hole in the blood vessel and stop the flow of blood). This complex process involves platelets and proteins called clotting factors.
Von Willebrand factor is involved in the early stages of blood clotting, and also carries the important clotting protein factor VIII. In people with VWD, the amount of Von Willebrand factor clotting protein in the blood is lower than normal or doesn’t work as it should.
Many kids with VWD have such mild symptoms that they never know they have it. Those with a more severe form of the disease, though, need proper diagnosis and a treatment plan to help them reduce bleeding symptoms.
Symptoms of Von Willebrand disease can include:
There are various forms of VWD:
Like hemophilia, VWD is a genetic disorder. Usually, it’s passed from parent to child, but sometimes can happen after birth. The child of a man or a woman with VWD has a 50% chance of getting the gene.
A child also can inherit the gene and show no symptoms, but still can pass the gene on to any offspring.
Because symptoms can be mild, VWD can be hard to diagnose and often isn’t found.
Blood tests used to diagnose VWD include:
Tests might need to be repeated because the levels they detect may rise and fall over time. Also, the doctor will take a family
to see if other relatives have a bleeding disorder.
The most common treatment for VWD is desmopressin. This synthetic (manmade) hormone causes a temporary increase in the Von Willebrand factor and factor VIII levels. It can be given as an injection or a nasal spray. But it doesn’t work for everyone and may not be helpful in treating type 2. Some patients will need treatment with an intravenous (IV, given into a vein) form of Von Willebrand factor.
Medicine to slow or prevent the breakdown of blood clots also might be used, and fibrin glue can be put directly on a wound to stop bleeding.
Treatments for girls with heavy menstrual bleeding from VWD also might include birth control pills or an IUD that contains the hormone progestin.
Hemophilia is a rare bleeding disorder that prevents the blood from clotting properly. With modern treatment, most kids who have it can lead full, healthy lives.
A von Willebrand factor (vWF) activity – ristocetin cofactor test lets doctors evaluate the functioning of a protein that helps blood to clot.
Doctors order the vWF antigen test to help diagnose or monitor the treatment of von Willebrand disease.
A partial thromboplastin time (PTT) test is used to evaluate blood’s ability to clot. It may be done as part of an evaluation for a bleeding disorder or to monitor the effects of blood-thinning medicine.
A factor VIII activity blood test enables doctors to evaluate the functioning of a protein that helps blood to clot.
Doctors may order a PT test as part of an evaluation for a bleeding disorder or to monitor the effects of blood-thinning medicine.
Read the basics about genetics, including how certain illnesses, or increased risks for certain illnesses, pass from generation to generation.
A nosebleed can be scary, but it’s rarely cause for alarm. Here’s how to handle one at home.
Find out how to handle minor cuts at home – and when to get medical care for a more serious injury.
Advances in genetic testing help doctors diagnose and treat certain illnesses. The type of test done depends on which condition a doctor checks for.
Here are the basics about the life-sustaining fluid called blood.
Find out about the mysterious, life-sustaining fluid called blood.
Just about everyone has had one of these on their knee. Find out how scabs help you heal.
When people have Von Willebrand disease, their blood doesn’t clot properly. Many teens with VWD have such mild symptoms that they never know they have it.
Anemia happens when there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in the body. It can be caused by many things, including dietary problems, medical treatments, and inherited conditions.
Hereditary spherocytosis is an inherited blood disorder. Treatments can help with symptoms.
Aplastic anemia happens when the body can’t make enough blood cells. A person can develop anemia, infections, and bleeding. Treatments can help with most kinds of aplastic anemia.
Iron helps the body carry oxygen in the blood and plays a key role in brain and muscle function. Too little iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
Hemolytic anemia is a type of anemia that happens when red blood cells break down faster than the body can make them.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.