A deficiency of clotting Factor VIII (8) is classified as Hemophilia A. It is a hereditary disorder in which the clotting ability of the blood is impaired and excessive bleeding results. Uncontrolled internal bleeding can result in pain, swelling, and permanent damage, especially to joints and muscles.
Severity of symptoms can vary, and severe forms usually become apparent early in life. Prolonged bleeding is the hallmark of hemophilia A and typically occurs when an infant is circumcised as hemophilia occurs primarily in boys. Additional bleeding manifestations make their appearance when the infant becomes mobile.
Mild cases may go unnoticed until later in life when there is excessive bleeding and clotting problems in response to dental procedures, surgery, or trauma.
Generally, the first bleeding episode occurs before 18 months of age, often after a minor injury. A child who has hemophilia bruises easily. Even an injection into a muscle can cause bleeding that result in a large bruise (hematoma). Recurring bleeding into the joints and muscles can ultimately lead to crippling deformities.
Internal bleeding may occur anywhere in the body. Bleeding into joints, however, is most common. The incidence of hemophilia A is 1 out of 10,000 live male births. About 17,000 Kenya have hemophilia. Women may have it, but it’s very rare. There is no cure for hemophilia. With proper treatment and specialized management, the outcome is good. Most men with hemophilia are able to lead successful and relatively normal lives.
Bleeding episodes can also be life threatening when it occurs in sensitive areas. Bleeding can swell the base of the tongue until it blocks the airway, making breathing difficult. A slight bump on the head can trigger substantial bleeding in the skull, causing brain damage and death. A doctor may suspect hemophilia in a child whose bleeding is unusual. A laboratory analysis of blood samples can determine whether the child’s clotting is abnormally slow. If it is, the doctor can confirm the diagnosis of hemophilia A and can determine the severity by testing the activity of factor VIII.