Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP, also known as immune thrombocytopenic purpura) is a rare blood condition. People who have ITP do not have enough platelets in their blood. Platelets are blood cells that help stop bruising and bleeding when you get hurt. This low number of platelets can lead to easy bruising and bleeding.


Without platelets, it is harder for the blood to clot. This can lead to bruising and bleeding.


Blood clotting without platelets graphic

Even though it may be scary to be diagnosed with ITP, there is good news:

  • It’s not cancer
  • It’s not contagious
  • It’s often managed with treatment

In children with ITP, platelets drop to dangerously low levels. Why does this happen?

  • Their body may be destroying healthy platelets
  • Their body doesn’t create enough platelets

Image of platelet destruction and lower platelet production in pediatric ITP


ITP can be divided into 3 types, named according to how long it lasts after diagnosis. The time since diagnosis is often a factor in treatment decisions.

Newly diagnosed ITP

  • Sometimes called acute ITP
  • May go away with treatment or on its own within a few weeks or months and not return

Persistent ITP

  • ITP lasting 3 to 12 months after diagnosis
  • May require a change in treatment

Chronic ITP

  • ITP lasting >12 months after diagnosis
  • May require a change in treatment

Doctors start out treating all ITP as acute ITP. If your child's initial treatment is not working well enough after 3 months, it may be time to try a different treatment option. You and your child’s doctor should discuss a treatment approach that fits your family’s lifestyle.