Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura

Question: My son developed a disorder called ITP-whose symptoms mimic those of leukemia- Bruises appeared all over his limbs and his platelet count dropped very low. What is the cause of ITP and is there anything that can prevent it from recurring?

Answer: ITP, also known as Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (a very scary and long name for a platelet disorder). Platelets are cells in the body that help to clot blood.

Technically, the definition of Idiopathic is "WE DON'T KNOW THE CAUSE." Viruses are thought to cause the majority of cases. Some cases are caused by the body actually destroying it's own platelets. The spleen is the organ responsible for platelet destruction. In severe cases, removal of the spleen may be necessary.

Bruising from low platelets occurs because of bleeding under the skin. This results in the bruising that you described on your son. Treatment is aimed at restoring the number of platelets, usually by special medications. If platelets remain low for months or years, it is said to be chronic. Because most cases of ITP occur without a cause, it is difficult to prevent. Luckily, the majority resolve without major problems.

Also see:

  • Does Strep Throat lead to Scarlet's Fever?
  • Can a pediatrician comfortably prescribe and manage ADHD medication or is it better suited to a psychiatrist?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.