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Pediatric Von Willebrand Disease Treatment & Management

  • Author: Suchitra S Acharya, MBBS, MD; Chief Editor: Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
Updated: Dec 16, 2014

Medical Care

Evidence-based guidelines for the diagnosis and management of von Willebrand disease (VWD) have been established.[10, 11]

Minor bleeding problems in patients with von Willebrand disease, such as bruising or a brief nosebleed, may not require specific treatment. For more serious bleeding, medications that can raise the von Willebrand factor (VWF) level and, thereby, limit bleeding are available. The goal of therapy is to correct the defect in platelet adhesiveness (by raising the level of effective von Willebrand factor) and the defect in blood coagulation (by raising the factor VIII [FVIII] level). In recent years, desmopressin (1-deamine-8-D-arginine vasopressin [DDAVP]) has become a mainstay of therapy for most patients with mild von Willebrand disease. At appropriate doses, DDAVP causes a 2-fold to 5-fold increase in plasma von Willebrand factor and FVIII concentrations in individuals who are healthy and patients who are responsive. DDAVP can be used to treat bleeding complications or to prepare patients with von Willebrand disease for surgery.

In general, a patient's responsiveness to DDAVP prior to its use for these purposes can be determined. Once determined, such responsiveness is generally consistent in patients over time and within families. In patients with serious bleeding, prompt treatment is important in order to decrease the possibility of complications.

Remember that in type IIB von Willebrand disease, DDAVP may cause a paradoxical drop in the platelet count and should not be used in a therapeutic setting without prior testing to see how the patient responds.



Consult a pediatric or adult hematologist.



No evidence suggests that extensive activity restrictions are necessary for most patients with mild type1 von Willebrand disease. Patients with more severe forms of von Willebrand disease should follow guidelines developed for patients with severe hemophilia.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Suchitra S Acharya, MBBS, MD Program Head, Bleeding Disorders and Thrombosis Program, Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York; Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Pediatrics in Medicine, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine at Hofstra University

Suchitra S Acharya, MBBS, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Hematology, International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Hemophilia and Thrombosis Research Society, World Federation of Hemophilia

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

James L Harper, MD Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, Associate Chairman for Education, Department of Pediatrics, University of Nebraska Medical Center; Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Creighton University School of Medicine; Director, Continuing Medical Education, Children's Memorial Hospital; Pediatric Director, Nebraska Regional Hemophilia Treatment Center

James L Harper, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, American Federation for Clinical Research, Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics, Hemophilia and Thrombosis Research Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Hematology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA Executive Vice President, Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Renown Heath

Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Healthcare Executives, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

J Martin Johnston, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Mercer University School of Medicine; Director of Hematology/Oncology, The Children's Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center; Consulting Oncologist/Hematologist, St Damien's Pediatric Hospital

J Martin Johnston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, International Society of Paediatric Oncology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


John D Geil, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, University of Kentucky Children's Hospital

John D Geil, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, and Society for Neuro-Oncology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Structure and domains of von Willebrand factor.
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