Association between physical activity and risk of bleeding in children with hemophilia

JAMA. 2012 Oct 10;308(14):1452-9. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.12727.


Context: Vigorous physical activity is thought to increase risk of bleeds in children with hemophilia, but the magnitude of the risk is unknown.

Objective: To quantify the transient increase in risk of bleeds associated with physical activity in children with hemophilia.

Design, setting, and participants: A case-crossover study nested within a prospective cohort study was conducted at 3 pediatric hemophilia centers in Australia between July 2008 and October 2010. A total of 104 children and adolescent boys aged 4 through 18 years with moderate or severe hemophilia A or B were monitored for bleeds for up to 1 year. Following each bleed, the child or parent was interviewed to ascertain exposures to physical activity preceding the bleed. Physical activity was categorized according to expected frequency and severity of collisions. The risk of bleeds associated with physical activity was estimated by contrasting exposure to physical activity in the 8 hours before the bleed with exposures in two 8-hour control windows, controlling for levels of clotting factor in the blood.

Main outcome measures: Association of physical activity and factor level with risk of bleeding.

Results: The participants were observed for 4839 person-weeks during which time 436 bleeds occurred. Of these, 336 bleeds occurred more than 2 weeks after the preceding bleed and were used in the primary analysis of risk. Compared with inactivity and category 1 activities (eg, swimming), category 2 activities (eg, basketball) were associated with a transient increase in the risk of bleeding (30.6% of bleed windows vs 24.8% of first control windows; odds ratio, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.7-4.8, P < .001). Category 3 activities (eg, wrestling) were associated with a greater transient increase in risk (7.0% of bleed windows vs 3.4% of first control windows; odds ratio, 3.7; 95% CI, 2.3-7.3, P < .001). To illustrate absolute risk increase, for a child who bleeds 5 times annually and is exposed on average to category 2 activities twice weekly and to category 3 activities once weekly, exposure to these activities was associated with only 1 of the 5 annual bleeds. For every 1% increase in clotting factor level, bleeding incidence was lower by 2% (95% CI, 1%-3%; P = .004).

Conclusions: In children and adolescents with hemophilia, vigorous physical activity was transiently associated with a moderate relative increase in risk of bleeding. Because the increased relative risk is transient, the absolute increase in risk of bleeds associated with physical activity is likely to be small.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Hemophilia A / complications*
  • Hemophilia B / complications*
  • Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk
  • Severity of Illness Index