Blood Conditions

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Blood ConditionsBlood is a living tissue made up of liquids and solids. Over half of our blood is made up of water, salts and protein, called plasma. The solid part of blood contains red and white blood cells and platelets. Blood disorders can affect one or more parts of the blood and can be acute or chronic. 

Below is a list of the most common blood conditions seen in children waiting for forever families. We provide the following information for reference purposes only and cannot attest to the accuracy of the information. We highly recommend speaking with an experienced physician for further details on each condition.

Common Blood Conditions

Hemophilia

Adopt Special Needs: Blood Conditions - Hemophilia
Hemophilia
is an inherited disorder where a person’s blood does not clot properly. This means a person with hemophilia will bleed longer than a person without it because they do not have enough clotting factor in their blood, which helps change blood from a liquid to solid state. There are 12 clotting factors, and people hemophilia will have too little of Factor VIII (8)(Hemphilia A), Factor IX (9)(Hemophilia B)or Factor XI (Hemophilia C). A child with Hemophilia A or B may have excessive bruising, excessive bleeding, easy bleeding, nose bleeds and bruising and bleeding in the joints. A child with hemophilia may also have blood in his or her urine. Symptoms of Hemophilia C are generally very mild. Hemophilia affects boys more often than girls, and in the U.S. one out of every 5,000 to 10,000 boys are born with it.

Causes:
Hemophilia is typically an inherited disorder, which means it is passed down from the parents to a child through genes. The genes that cause Hemophilia A and B are located on the X chromosome, which means it is passed by the mother, not the father. The gene that causes Hemophilia C can be passed on to children by either parent.

Possible complications:
Hemophilia can cause internal bleeding in muscles which can result in swelling and damage to joints. The need for blood transfusions also adds the risk of infection from contaminated blood. In the U.S. there is a decreased risk due to advanced testing that is done; however in other parts of the world, the risk for infection is greater

Treatment:
Treatment for mild Hemophilia A may involve the hormone desmopressin (DDAVP) which helps stimulate the body into releasing additional clotting factor. Children with Hemophilia A and B can also receive injections of clotting Factor 8 or 9, which is extracted from donated blood or can be genetically engineered. Factor 11 is currently only available in Europe. Children in the U.S. with Hemophilia C need plasma transfusions to help with bleeding episodes. 

Prognosis:
Most children with this special need have a normal life span and can lead independent lives.

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Lead Poisoning

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Blood Conditions - Lead Poisoning
Lead is a heavy metal that is extremely toxic. When a child comes in contact with items containing lead, the metal builds up in their system over time. Symptoms of lead poisoning can include irritability, aggressive behavior, low appetite and energy, difficulty sleeping, headaches, loss of previous developmental skills in young children, anemia, and constipation. Abdominal pain and cramping is usually the first sign of a high, toxic dose of lead poison. Very high levels may cause vomiting, staggering gait, muscle weakness, seizures, or coma.

Causes:
Lead can be found in paint, solder used in plumbing, old toys or furniture, pottery, porcelain, leaded glass, and hobby materials. Babies and children may come into contact with peeling paint on cribs or walls, dust containing lead, contaminated bare soil, air, contaminated drinking water through lead pipes, ceramics painted with lead paint, and home remedies containing lead.

Possible complications;
Lead poisoning can cause permanent damage to the brain, as well as the kidneys and nervous system. Very high levels can also cause death.

Treatment:
In milder cases, simply removing the child from the environment with lead contamination can help reduce the lead levels in their system over time. The amount of lead in a child’s body can also be reduced if the child's diet includes plenty of foods rich in iron, calcium and zinc. Examples of foods rich in iron include eggs, raisins, greens, beans, peas, and other legumes. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are recommended for their high calcium content. Lean red meat and oysters are examples of foods that contain zinc. For more severe cases, medication is available to help lower very high lead levels in children.

Prognosis:
If caught early and treated, children with lead exposure typically have no long term effects. However, if lead exposure is prolonged or severe and untreated, permanent damage may occur.

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Thalassemia

Adopt Special Needs: Blood Conditions - Thalassemia
Other common names:
 
Cooley's anemia, Mediterranean anemia, Hemoglobin H disease, hydrops fetalis

Thalassiema is where the body does make enough hemoglobin, the part of the blood that helps carry oxygen throughout the body. This causes severe anemia and for parts of the body to not be able to function properly. Symptoms will vary depending on the type and severity of thalassemia but may include: fatigue, weakness, paleness, jaundice, abdominal swelling, dark urine and slow growth.

Hemoglobin is made of two proteins: Alpha globin and beta globin. Thalassemia occurs when there is a defect in a gene that helps control production of these proteins. There are several types of thalassemia.

  • Alpha Thalassemia: Alpha globin is made by four genes and one or more can be mutated or missing.
    • Silent Carrier: When only one gene is abnormal, there are no signs or symptoms.
    • Minor or Trait: When two genes are abnormal, this will cause minor symptoms such as slight anemia.
    • Hemoglobin H disease: When three genes are abnormal, children will have persistent anemia.
    • Major: Four abnormal genes are typically fatal in utero.
    • Beta Thalassemia: Beta globin is made up of three genes, and one or more can be mutated.
      • Minor or Trait: When only one gene is abnormal, there are typically minor symptoms such as mild anemia which requires no treatment.
      • Intermedia: When two genes are mutated, but not severely, a child will typically have anemia that will sometimes need to be treated with blood transfusions.
      • Major (Cooley’s anemia): When two genes are severely mutated, a child will have chronic, severe anemia which requires regular blood transfusions. This can also be life-threatening.

Causes:
Thalassemia is a genetically inherited disorder.  

Possible complications:
With frequent blood transfusions, a person with thalassemia can experience iron overload. This is typically treated with chelation therapy, where the iron is stripped from the blood. In some countries, this treatment is not available. Children with thalassemia are at greater risk for infection, enlargement of the spleen, bone deformities, delayed growth and heart problems.

Treatment:
Minor cases of thalassemia typically require little to no intervention. Children with more significant types of thalassemia will require regular blood transfusions. Some children will need to have their spleen removed. A stem cell or bone marrow treatment may cure thalassemia, however this procedures has significant risks, including death.  

Prognosis:
In many cases, with treatment, children with thalassemia can live a healthy life. However, if a child lives in a country where chelation therapy is not available, the condition will be fatal.   

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