Hemophilia is a genetic condition that can’t be prevented. However, modern medical treatments can help prevent bleeding and increase life span.

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Hemophilia is a rare genetic condition that affects how your blood clots. Since the condition is passed along from generation to generation, there’s no way to prevent it.

However, modern treatments can prevent excess bleeding and improve survival for people with hemophilia.

Learn more about hemophilia.

Hemophilia is nearly always genetic.

Hemophilia is inherited. That means it’s passed from parents to their children through genes. You cannot prevent it.

Researchers are currently investigating ways to stop the condition from passing between generations.

People with hemophilia can take steps to prevent or lessen bleeding.

Preventing bleeding is typically a part of hemophilia treatment. This is called prophylaxis: It prevents both bleeding from minor injuries and damage to joints that can happen when hemophilia causes internal bleeding.

Often, prevention treatments are infusions of medication that help blood clot.

You can also take additional steps to help prevent bleeding:

  • Always wear helmets and other safety equipment during athletic activity.
  • Avoid contact sports and high impact activities.
  • Let medical staff know about your condition. Request that all injections are received into your skin, not into muscle.
  • Talk with a doctor or qualified healthcare professional before having any dental procedures.
  • Talk with a doctor or qualified healthcare professional before taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or any other medication that can affect how your blood clots.

There are multiple treatments for hemophilia. Your exact treatment depends on the severity and type of your hemophilia.

Common treatments include:

  • Plasma-derived clotting treatments: Plasma-derived products are made from the liquid part of human blood. Transfusions of these plasma-derived clotting treatments are used to increase clotting.
  • Recombinant factor clotting treatments: Recombinant factor clotting products are synthetic and used to help prevent bleeding.
  • Emicizumab: Emicizumab, also known under the brand name Hemlibra, is a treatment that replaces the function of the clotting factor that people with hemophilia are missing.
  • Amicar: This medication prevents clots from breaking down. It can help prevent bleeding.
  • Desmopressin acetate: This medication can help some people with mild and moderate hemophilia increase their clotting factor.

Hemophilia is genetic. It occurs in about 1 in every 5,000 male births in the United States. People of all races can inherit hemophilia.

Hemophilia is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, which means it’s carried on one of the sex chromosomes, X or Y. Changes on the X chromosome cause hemophilia. There are no clotting factors carried on the Y chromosome.

This means that if a person with XY chromosomes (male) inherits an X chromosome with the genetic changes that cause hemophilia, that person will have hemophilia.

For a person with XX chromosomes (female) to have hemophilia, they need to have these genetic changes on both X chromosomes.

In individuals with XX chromosomes, if one of their X chromosomes carries the changes that cause hemophilia and the other X chromosome does not, they’re considered a carrier for hemophilia. Their children have a chance of either having hemophilia or being a carrier for it.

If an XX parent is a carrier and an XY parent is unaffected, any XY child will have a 50% chance of having hemophilia. This is because they will either get their X chromosome from their unaffected XY parent or their XX carrier parent. Any XX children will then have a 50% chance of being a carrier.

As a result of this inheritance, hemophilia almost always affects people who have XY chromosomes (male sex). However, it’s possible for people with XX chromosomes (female sex) to have low levels of clotting factor.

Typically, in people with XX chromosomes, this leads to mild hemophilia and causes symptoms such as altered menstrual periods.

Language matters

In this article, we use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes and not their gender.

The research cited uses the term “male” to indicate individuals with XY chromosomes and the term “female” to indicate individuals with XX chromosomes. The genetic causes of hemophilia are directly related to the X chromosome.

A person’s gender identity may differ from the sex they were assigned at birth.

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Hemophilia is chronic. People with the condition need treatment throughout their lives. The type and frequency of treatment depend on factors such as the type of hemophilia and its severity.

Life expectancy also varies in people with hemophilia. In the past, people with hemophilia rarely lived past adolescence. However, today, people with hemophilia who receive appropriate treatment generally lead full lives.

On average, hemophilia is still associated with a shorter life expectancy, but life span is increasing as treatments continue to improve.

Can hemophilia get worse with age?

People with hemophilia are living longer than ever. As a result, doctors are also noticing new effects of hemophilia. For instance, hemophilia can damage bones, leading to fragile and thin bones in later years.

Can you develop hemophilia?

In very rare cases, people do develop hemophilia later in life. This is known as acquired hemophilia. It happens when your immune system starts attacking a clotting factor.

How rare is hemophilia?

In the United States, there are about 400 babies born with hemophilia each year.

Of the three types of hemophilia, type A is the most common, affecting about 10 in every 10,000 people. Type C is the rarest. Only around 1 in every 100,000 people have type C hemophilia.

Hemophilia is a genetic condition, so you can’t prevent it.

However, clotting treatments can help people with hemophilia prevent bleeding. These treatments are helping people with hemophilia live longer than ever before.