Semin Thromb Hemost 2001; 27(3): 253-268
DOI: 10.1055/s-2001-15255
Copyright © 2001 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. Tel.: +1(212) 584-4662

Acute Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) in Childhood: Retrospective and Prospective Survey in Germany

Anton H. Sutor, Anja Harms, Klaus Kaufmehl
  • Universitäts-Kinderklinik, Freiburg, Germany
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Publication History

Publication Date:
31 December 2001 (online)


Treatment of acute childhood immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is controversial. For information on the present situation in Germany, a retrospective and a prospective survey were carried out. In the retrospective survey, questionnaires were sent to all German pediatric hospitals asking about local policies for handling ITP and whether in the preceding year (starting on October 1995) death or ICH had occurred; 86% answered. In the prospective survey, 94% responded to the mailings (``have you seen a case of ITP?'') sent in monthly intervals between October 1, 1996 and September 30, 1997; 89% of the questionnaires were retrieved. In the retrospective survey, no deaths and no ICH were reported. If only mild bleedings, such as skin bleeds alone (or additional mild mucous membrane bleeding) were present, 20.5% (26.4%) preferred the ``watchful waiting'' regimen (supportive care), irrespective of the platelet count; 79.5% (73.6%) would treat if the platelet counts were <5 × 109/L, 73.5% (67.9%) if < 10, 35.9% (33.6%) if < 20, and 4.2% (2.6%) if <30. Of the treaters, 50.5% would prefer immunoglobulins (Ig), 24.4% glucocorticosteroids (GC), and 20.5% GC and/or Ig. Generally, a rise in platelets, most frequently >50 × 109/L was considered as therapeutic success. In the prospective survey, from the reported 323 children an annual incidence of 2.16 per 100,000 children was calculated. The incidence depended on age and gender, being highest for boys younger than 2 years with 5.8 (girls 3.42) and low with 0.44 for boys (girls 0.89) older than14 years. About 60% of the patients had a preceding infection. Although 83% had a platelet count <20 × 109/L (56% <10 × 109/L), almost all (97.5%) had only mild bleeding symptoms; 2.5% had serious bleeding symptoms requiring blood transfusion or nasal packing, none had ICH, and no death was reported. The mean platelet count on admission was 11.348 (lowest count 8.253) × 109/L. Sixty-one percent received Ig, 19% GC (both either alone or as first choice), 6% Ig plus GC, and 14% no treatment. Side effects were reported in 22% of the children treated with Ig. The retrospective survey mirrored the uncertainty in regard to treatment. The prospective survey provided new aspects on incidence, age, and gender distribution. Although almost all patients had only mild bleeding symptoms, most received Ig and/or GC. The decision to treat depended mainly on the platelet count. From these surveys, conclusions about the effectiveness of treatment cannot be drawn. Recommendations based primarily on platelet counts must be reconsidered.