A doctor is often faced with a parent who is concerned that his or her child seems to bleed or bruise easily and there is said to be a relative with a bleeding tendency.
In the past, tests to check whether there was some serious underlying disorder were somewhat complicated.
Doctors now know that a thorough history of the child, how the problem has presented itself, plus a history of the family, can give most of the clues.
A few simple blood tests as well, should be enough for the family doctor to be able to reassure the parents that no real problem exists.
True haemophilia or haemophilia A, which was present among many descendants of Queen Victoria, is due to an absence of factor VIII in the blood. This deficiency is inherited, but is sex linked. It is carried by females and may appear in their sons.
Haemophilia B, or Christmas disease, is due to a lack of factor IX and is also sex linked in inheritance.
Correct diagnosis as to whether a bleeding disorder is present, will lead to the proper treatment if it is needed.
Purpura is a form of bleeding tendency which, in most cases, is acquired rather than inherited, and is usually temporary.