What Is Hemophilia?

Hemophilia is a genetic disorder which creates problems in the body’s blood clotting system. It is caused by a deficiency of factor VIII or factor IX. As a result, stable clots do not form and prolonged bleeding occurs. Hemophilia can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on factor levels in the blood. Contrary to popular myth, persons with bleeding disorders will not bleed to death from a cut or minor injury. They suffer mostly from internal bleeding into joints and muscles.

Hemophilia affects males most severely, but we now know females can have hemophilia too. Inhibitors in hemophilia present complicated treatment challenges. Hemophilia medicines, called factor concentrates, are among the most expensive medicines on the market. There are an estimated 1,000 persons with hemophilia in New England and 20,000 in the United States.