The relevance of developmental hemostasis to hemorrhagic disorders of newborns

Semin Perinatol. 1997 Feb;21(1):70-85. doi: 10.1016/s0146-0005(97)80022-5.


The hemostatic system is a dynamic evolving process that is age-dependent. Components of the hemostatic system are synthesized in early fetal life and do not cross the placenta from mother to fetus. However, plasma concentrations of proteins involved in hemostasis significantly differ from adults. Physiological reference ranges are available for premature infants, full-term infants and children from ages 1 to 16 years. In the coagulation system, plasma concentrations of the vitamin K-dependent and contact factors are decreased at birth, whereas other factors such as fibrinogen, FV, FVIII, and FXIII are similar or increased compared with adults at birth. In the fibrinolytic system, plasma concentrations of plasminogen are decreased at birth, whereas tissue plasminogen activator and plasminogen activator inhibitor are increased. Clinically, the hemostatic system of the young is effective and healthy infants do not suffer from spontaneous hemorrhagic complications. However, infants are more vulnerable, compared with older patients, for bleeding in the presence of either congenital or acquired haemostatic defects. Severe congenital bleeding disorders, although rare, frequently present in the newborn period. The most common acquired causes of bleeding newborns include disseminated intravascular coagulation, vitamin K deficiency, and liver disease. A description of these disorders and treatment guidelines are provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation / physiology
  • Blood Coagulation Factors / physiology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology
  • Fibrinolysis / physiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Hemostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Thrombin / physiology
  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding / physiopathology*


  • Blood Coagulation Factors
  • Thrombin