Hemophilia is a genetic disorder characterized by spontaneous hemorrhage or prolonged bleeding due to factor VIII or IX deficiency. Annual incidence is estimated at 1/5,000 male births and the prevalence is estimated at 1/12,000 which causes increased bleeding and usually affects males. About 70% of the time it is inherited as an X-linked recessive trait, but around 30% of cases arise from spontaneous mutations. Haemophilia A (incidence) occurs in approximately 1 in 5,000 males.
Signs and symptoms
Characteristic symptoms vary with severity. In general symptoms are internal or external bleeding episodes, which are called "bleeds".Patients with more severe haemophilia suffer more severe and more frequent bleeds, while patients with mild haemophilia typically suffer more minor symptoms except after surgery or serious trauma. Moderate haemophiliacs have variable symptoms which manifest along a spectrum between severe and mild forms.
The prophylactic treatment regime is highly variable and individually determined. Apart from "routine" supplementation, extra factor concentrate is given around surgical procedures and after trauma. In children, an easily accessible intravenous port (e.g. Port-a-Cath) may have to be inserted to minimise frequent traumatic intravenous cannulation. These devices have made prophylaxis in haemophilia much easier for families because the problems of "finding a vein" for infusion two to three times a week are eliminated. However, there are risks involved with their use, the most worrisome being that of infection. Studies differ but some show an infection rate as high as 50%.