Recent studies have documented increased bleeding symptoms and related complications in patients with low von Willebrand factor (VWF), highlighting the clinical significance of this entity. Because children and adolescents with VWF deficiencies often present to primary care physicians with bleeding symptoms, physicians need to be aware of this condition for early detection.
Studies have found that children and adolescents with low VWF (VWF levels of 30-50 IU/dL) can present with clinically significant bleeding, including mucosal, menstrual, postsurgical, and posttraumatic bleeding, leading to complications such as anemia, iron deficiency, transfusion, hospitalization, and poor quality of life. Detecting and promptly managing low VWF in children and adolescents with bleeding are essential because failure to do so can lead to significant morbidity in adulthood, especially among female patients, including continued heavy menstrual bleeding; postpartum hemorrhage; related gynecologic complications, such as hemorrhagic ovarian cysts; and surgical interventions for heavy menstrual bleeding, including hysterectomy. This narrative review summarizes the observations of several studies that have shed light on the pathophysiologic mechanisms of low VWF and bleeding in these patients and the available diagnostic modalities and treatment options.
Conclusions and Relevance
Studies in children and adolescents have provided important insights into the clinical phenotype, complications, pathophysiologic mechanisms, evaluation, and management of low VWF, now recognized as an important clinicopathologic entity, as presented in this review. As gatekeepers, primary care physicians play an important role in guiding patients with this recently recognized clinicopathologic entity toward appropriate specialty care and providing continued comanagement to prevent future complications as the patients enter adulthood.