Antiphospholipid syndrome occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks some of the normal proteins in the blood, causing abnormal clotting. This condition is quite rare; most family doctors will never see anyone with this condition. Therefore, it is vitally important for your child to be immediately assessed by a pediatric rheumatologist if it is suspected that he or she might have antiphospholipid syndrome.
Antiphospholipid syndrome can cause blood clots to form in the arteries or veins of the fingers, toes, legs, kidneys, lungs or brain. Blood clots in the brain can cause stroke, which is a serious symptom of this condition. A heart attack, lung clot or pulmonary embolism (PE) may also be caused by this condition.
Other less common symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome include:
If your child’s rheumatologist suspects that he or she may have antiphospholipid syndrome, a series of blood tests will be conducted over the course of several weeks. The doctor will analyze your child’s blood for the presence of at least one of the following antibodies:
In order to make a definitive diagnosis of antiphospholipid syndrome, at least one of these antibodies must be present in your child’s blood in at least two separate blood tests conducted 12 weeks apart. Your child’s doctor will begin to treat the condition as soon as it is recognized, which is sometimes before the definitive diagnosis at 12 weeks.
There is no cure for this condition, but your child’s doctor will use various medicines in order to reduce the risk of blood clots. The medicines used may include:
If your child is taking anticoagulants, there are some safety measures that he or she can take to reduce the chance of bleeding. It is recommended that he or she:
Blood clots related to this condition will be greatly reduced if your child takes the prescribed medicines and follows the lifestyle modifications recommended by the doctor.
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