Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is an acquired hematological disorder that is developed secondary to the production of auto-antibodies against platelets leading to isolated thrombocytopenia, in the absence of other causes of thrombocytopenia such as drugs, infections, malignancy, or other autoimmune diseases [1-6]. ITP commonly affects children between one and seven years of age. Severe life threatening bleeding is rare (0.2-0.9%) [7-12]. Childhood primary ITP usually runs a benign, self-limiting course, with or without treatment. Complete remission occurs within six months from diagnosis, commonly within 6-12 weeks, in the majority of children with the diagnosis of ITP. However, 20-30% of children will continue to have persistent low platelets count with bleeding symptoms beyond six months from diagnosis [4, 12-18]. The diagnosis of ITP in children is essentially one of exclusion. The child is usually one to seven years old, develops skin bruises, petechiae, or mucosal bleeding, who is otherwise healthy and having no lymphadenopathy or organomegally. Full blood count reveals isolated thrombocytopenia with normal hemoglobin (Hb) level, white blood count (WBC) and normal peripheral blood smear. Initial management options for newly diagnosed childhood ITP include; observation only, the use of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), steroids, anti-D immunoglobulin, each alone or in combination [6, 19.] Children who develop chronic ITP may benefit from splenectomy [19, 20-24]. Rituximab, a chimeric monoclonal antibody (anti-CD20), may lead to complete remission, and defers the need for splenectomy [25-27]. Recently, the thrombopoietin (TPO) agonists (Romiplostim and Eltrombopag) produced very good response in adult and pediatric patients with severe chronic ITP [28-30].
Keywords: Immune thrombocytopenia; childhood ITP; platelets; purpura.
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