Every year, 300 to 400 children in the Netherlands are affected by thrombosis
Early detection of thrombosis in children and thus avoiding delays in treatment can save lives. The theme for World Thrombosis Day at Erasmus MC Sophia this year is therefore ‘Youth and thrombosis: what now?’ On Thursday 13 October, the Erasmus MC building was illuminated to draw attention to the rapid treatment of pediatric thrombosis.
Pediatric hematologist Heleen van Ommen received her PhD on thrombosis in children and has been doing research for years. She explains: ‘We see that children and parents often end up too late with a specialist because thrombosis is not considered. Complaints may be very subtle or similar to complaints consistent with other illnesses, such as pneumonia, hyperventilation or migraine. That is why we put young people with thrombosis in the spotlight during World Thrombosis Day. Faster recognition is important, because prompt treatment with blood thinners is essential.’
Common complaints with thrombosis are painful, thick, discolored arm or leg, blurred or double vision, headache and difficulty breathing. ‘If you don’t catch it in time and start treatment late, children can have complaints for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, children rarely die from thrombosis, but they can still have unpleasant problems after a thrombosis, such as a thick and heavy leg, fatigue and concentration problems. Some young people are stuck on blood thinners for the rest of their lives.’
Van Ommen and research nurse Anke Jongmans see that the number of cases of thrombosis in children is increasing worldwide. ‘A recent American study shows that the number of cases has doubled in twelve years, and we are also seeing more and more young patients in the Netherlands. This is because children with chronic diseases live longer and often develop thrombosis. And because of an increase in risk factors such as birth control pills, long journeys, operations, obesity, lack of exercise and smoking.’
Van Ommen has the following advice for using birth control pills: Use a second-generation birth control pill. If there is a family history of thrombosis, contact your doctor for another method of birth control. And don’t smoke.
In addition to the physical problems, thrombosis also does a lot to the self-confidence of young patients. ‘The children often live in fear. They no longer trust their bodies and are afraid it will happen again. Puberty is a crucial age when it comes to self-confidence, and therefore we think it is important to reflect on the disease and draw attention to it. You want every child to grow up happy and carefree.’
‘We see an increase in risk factors such as birth control pills, not exercising and smoking’
World Thrombosis Day
On Thursday 13 October, during World Thrombosis Day, Erasmus MC Sophia will focus on the disease in children and draw attention to the early detection of thrombosis. There is a special program in De Machinist for young people with thrombosis. Patient experiences and doctors’ information about the long-term consequences of thrombosis are shared here. For example, read the story of Maaike, she got a thrombosis when she was 15. Or Vayanne, she continued with complaints for far too long and ended up in the children’s ward with a pulmonary embolism. The Erasmus MC building is also illuminated in the evening.
In thrombosis, a blood vessel becomes blocked by a blood clot or clot, usually in the leg or arm. If the clot breaks loose, it can travel into the lungs; a pulmonary embolism. This serious blood clotting disease is more likely to occur in older people, yet 300 to 400 children in the Netherlands are affected by the disease each year.
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