Thrombocytopenia [thrombo-boh-sy-toh-PEE-nee-uh] means that a newborn baby has too few platelets in his or her blood. Platelets are blood cells that help the blood clot. They are made in the bone marrow.
Thrombocytopenia may be caused by infections in the baby while in the womb or right after birth. Some of these infections are:
A baby can also get thrombocytopenia if a mother’s immune system makes antibodies against the baby’s platelets. Some medicines taken by the mother or given to the baby can cause thrombocytopenia.
Thrombocytopenia is rare in babies. But a baby is more likely to get it if he or she:
Symptoms occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of thrombocytopenia can look like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your baby's healthcare provider will check your baby’s health history. He or she will do a physical exam. Blood tests can show lower platelet counts.
Treatment usually depends on the cause of the thrombocytopenia. Most cases of thrombocytopenia are not serious enough to need treatment. But your child may need a platelet blood transfusion.
Babies that don’t have enough platelets may have bleeding into the tissues. Bruising of the skin is common. With bleeding, the red blood cells break down. This makes bilirubin. Bilirubin can build up in the blood and cause a yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).
Too much bleeding can be dangerous and can affect the brain and other body systems.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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