From the Journals

Heavy menstrual bleeding in teens often linked to bleeding disorders



Over one-third of adolescents presenting with heavy menstrual bleeding were diagnosed with a bleeding disorder after screening, according to results of a retrospective study.

Teen talking to her doctor ©Catherine Yeulet/

The high incidence of bleeding disorders detected argues for routine screening of adolescents with heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB), Brooke O’Brien, MD, of the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and her colleagues wrote in the Journal of Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology.

“These findings support comprehensive and systematic hemostatic evaluation in adolescents with HMB,” Dr. O’Brien and her colleagues wrote. “A higher level of awareness of bleeding disorders as a cause for HMB in adolescence, especially [von Willebrand disease] and platelet function disorders, is needed and close multidisciplinary collaboration between the pediatric and adolescent gynecologist and hematologist in a specialized tertiary center should be established in the management of these patients.”

In their study, Dr. O’Brien and her colleagues retrospectively evaluated 124 adolescents with HMB at a pediatric and adolescent gynecology tertiary care center between July 2007 and July 2017. Of these, 77 patients (62.1%) underwent screening for blood disorders.

The researchers found 27 adolescents overall were diagnosed with a blood disorder, which consisted of 35.0% of patients screened and 21.7% of all patients studied. Specifically, 14 of 27 patients (51.6%) screened were diagnosed with von Willebrand disease, 9 of 27 patients (33.3%) screened were found to have inherited platelet function disorders, 3 of 27 patients (11.1%) had inherited or acquired thrombocytopenia, and 1 of 27 patients (3.7%) had factor IX deficiency. The researchers also screened for iron deficiency and/or anemia and found 53 of 107 patients (49.5%) who were screened received a diagnosis, and 19 of 27 patients (70.3%) who were diagnosed with a bleeding disorder also had iron deficiency and/or anemia.

“In adolescents who are already known to have a bleeding disorder, consultation with a pediatric gynecologist and/or hematologist prior to menarche may be helpful to outline abnormal patterns of menstrual bleeding and to discuss options of treatment in the event of heavy menstrual bleeding,” Dr. O’Brien and her colleagues wrote.

Potential limitations in the study include the refractory nature of referrals at a tertiary care center potentially overestimating the prevalence of HMB in this population as well as the study’s retrospective design when investigating and measuring heavy menstrual bleeding, but researchers noted patients were reviewed and classified by a specialist pediatric hematologist.

The authors reported no relevant conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: O’Brien B et al. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2018 Nov 22. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2018.11.005.

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