Understanding the Disease

Chronic ITP in Children

Understanding the Disease

What is chronic ITP in children?

Pediatric chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a rare blood disorder. People who have it do not have enough platelets in their blood. 


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

How blood clots

ITP can be scary, but there is good news:

  • It's not cancer
  • It's not contagious
  • It may be managed with treatment

What happens in chronic ITP?

In children with chronic ITP, platelets may drop to dangerously low levels when their:

  • immune system mistakenly attacks healthy platelets
  • spleen removes too many platelets from the blood
  • body doesn't make enough platelets to make up for the platelet destruction
How platelets circulate

What can we expect?

With any ITP treatment, the goal is to manage ITP symptoms, not platelet counts. Platelet counts are useful as a guide, but different people have symptoms at different platelet levels, so it is more important to tailor treatment to how your child feels.


The treatment your doctor suggests will depend on whether your child’s ITP is acute or chronic. Acute ITP is ITP that lasts less than 6 months. Chronic ITP lasts 6 months or more.


PROMACTA® (eltrombopag) is a treatment for people with chronic ITP. It may help boost your child’s platelet count after other treatments have caused too many side effects or have not worked well enough.

Acute ITP

  • Occurs for less than 6 months
  • Might go away on its own within a few weeks or months and not return
  • Is more common in children age 10 and below
  • Is the most common form of ITP in children; 80% to 90% of kids with ITP have acute ITP
  • Is commonly treated with steroids or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg)

Chronic ITP

  • Lasts 6 months or longer
  • May be a lifelong condition
  • Can affect 10% to 20% of children with ITP
  • Is more common if ITP is diagnosed after the age of 10
  • Is the most common form of ITP in adults
  • Is commonly treated with platelet boosters (such as PROMACTA), chemotherapy, or a splenectomy (surgical removal of the spleen)

Doctors start out treating all ITP as acute ITP. When those treatment options don’t work, it may be time to try chronic treatment options.