Childhood Immune Thrombocytopenia: A Changing Therapeutic Landscape
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Childhood immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is generally a benign self-limiting disorder of young children with <10% of cases requiring regular platelet enhancing therapy at 1 year following diagnosis. Increasingly, children with newly diagnosed ITP, who have isolated thrombocytopenia and no atypical features in the history or physical examination, are managed with minimal investigation and observation alone. The role of up-front, short-course corticosteroid therapy without bone marrow aspiration in this subgroup of cases merits further investigation. For children with clinically significant chronic ITP, the timing of elective splenectomy and the role of splenectomy-sparing strategies such as rituximab continues to be debated. Management of children with combined autoimmune cytopenias secondary to systemic lupus erythematosus, common variable immunodeficiency, and the autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome is often a challenge. Splenectomy should be avoided in cases with documented immunodeficiencies because of the increased risk of overwhelming sepsis postsplenectomy. For these cases, as well as for children with resistant primary chronic ITP who have failed splenectomy, the role of therapies such as mycophenolate mofetil, sirolimus, and the thrombopoietins remains to be determined.
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