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Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly. This means that it is harder for a person's body to stop bleeding. Hemophilia is usually a genetic disorder that a person is born with. A child with hemophilia may have prolonged bleeding after an injury or even without an injury. This occurs because the child has low levels of a type of protein that helps the blood to form clots. These proteins are called clotting factors.
With hemophilia, bleeding can range from mild to severe depending on how much clotting factor the child is missing. Bleeding may occur through the skin, mouth, or nose. It may also happen inside the body, such as in the joints.
In rare cases, a person can develop hemophilia without inheriting the hemophilia gene. This can happen if a person develops antibodies that attack clotting factors and keep them from working. An antibody is a type of protein that is part of the body's disease-fighting system (immune system).
If there is a family history of hemophilia, diagnosis can be made before birth. After 12 weeks of pregnancy, a health care provider can test a sample of fluid from inside the womb to make a diagnosis.
Be sure to work with a team of health care providers who specialize in hemophilia. In the United States, these teams are located at hemophilia treatment centers (HTCs). At an HTC, you can get help with home care, education about hemophilia, and support. To find an HTC near you, go to the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): www.cdc.gov
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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