Bruises are hardly unusual in children as they tend to fall down, run into each other and bump the furniture regularly. But bruising that occurs spontaneously or that seems out of proportion to an injury needs investigation. Many diseases can cause easy bruising in children -- some are temporary and not serious, while others need ongoing medical treatment. See your doctor for an accurate diagnosis if your child experiences easy bruising.
Von Willebrand Disease
Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder. Von Willebrand factor helps platelets clump together and stop bleeding. This disease is usually mild, affects males and females equally, and is more common in Caucasians than blacks.
Hemophilia is an inherited clotting disorder. In the United States, most of the children with hemophilia are boys. Proteins -- called clotting factors -- that help blood clot are absent in children with hemophilia. Clotting factors help blood cell pieces called platelets clump together at the site of an injury to stop bleeding. Many children with hemophilia receive regular injections of clotting factor, since bleeding into the joints and other areas of the body that may not be immediately noticed can be extremely dangerous.
Idiopathic thrombocytopenia -- ITP -- occurs when platelet levels in the blood are lower than normal, so bruising with minimal or no injury occurs. Platelets stick together at the site of an injury to stop bleeding. In addition to bruising, ITP causes small pinpoint red dots on the skin. These occur when very small blood vessels bleed under the skin. This condition resolves on its own without complication for most children. However, in some cases it may be life-threatening, such as bleeding that occurs in the brain, or excessive bleeding in other areas of the body.
Leukemia is the most common type of childhood cancer. It affects the production of blood cells in the bone marrow. Immature cells grow out of control, crowding out normal production of white and red blood cells and platelets. Leukemia normally occurs in children between 2 and 6 years old, but can affect children of any age. Boys are slightly more likely to develop leukemia than girls, and Caucasian children have leukemia more often than black children. In addition to bruising, fatigue, fever and shortness of breath often occur in children with leukemia.