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What Causes Blood Clots in Children?


Although blood clotting can be rare in children, it’s important to recognize why it happens and what you can do to prevent it. In most cases it forms due to an already existing condition.

Blood clots when left untreated can turn into more serious conditions and sometimes lead to death. It’s not something that you want to leave untreated in a child. If you have reason to believe your child is suffering from a blood cloth go to the emergency room as soon as possible.

There are certain things that can cause blood clots in children and these are some things to watch out for:

  • Poor blood flow in the veins can cause blood clots in your child. This may happen when children are confined to bed in the hospital for long periods of time. Sometimes it happens most commonly after your child has had surgery and can’t get around as easily as they used to.
  • Damage to the inner lining of veins can cause blood clots. This damage can happen when we place a “central line” catheter in a vein.
  • These are long flexible tubes we may need to insert through your child’s veins.
  • Damage can also happen when certain drugs or toxins circulate in the blood.
  • Inherited clotting conditions can increase your child’s tendency to form blood clots. We call these inherited clotting conditions “genetic thrombophilia.”
  • Other illnesses and certain medications can cause blood clots in children.
  • Birth control pills, patches, or rings that contain estrogen and other hormones increase the risk of blood clots for teenage girls. Any hormonal birth control can raise the risk for your child.
  • Occasionally, unusual structure or function of the blood vessels can cause blood clots. Both of these conditions can cause blood clots:
  • In May-Thurner syndrome, a vein in the left leg narrows.
  • In Paget-Schroetter syndrome, a vein where the arm meets the chest (subclavian vein) narrows.

When it comes to discovering blood clots in children, it’s usually due to more than one risk factor that originally caused the clot to form.

These risk factors can include having a chronic or acute illness such as cancer, severe infections, disorders of the immune system and an abnormal heart structure. These of course are all serious conditions that most children never experience. It’s best to watch out for unusual swelling, redness or pain in the arm and leg area. If your child is experiencing any of those symptoms then see your doctor immediately.