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Child Care and Schooling

Will von Willebrand disease affect a child’s ability to attend daycare or school?

No, it shouldn’t. Bleeding in Types 1 and 2 VWD should not keep a child out of school. Occasionally, with Type 3 VWD, a serious bleed into a muscle or joint could keep a child out of school for a short time. However, with prompt treatment, these absences should last no more than a day or two.

What should daycare and school personnel be told about a child with von Willebrand disease?

It is important to give daycare and school personnel the facts about VWD, but not to over-dramatize the disease. Many nurses in Hemophilia/Bleeding Disorder Comprehensive Care Programs are willing to talk to daycare and school personnel. This can help to reassure teachers and daycare workers that VWD can be easily managed.

The most common problem encountered at school will probably be nose bleeds. Children with VWD need to be taught at a young age how to handle their own nose bleeds. If the children are very young, the child’s teacher or daycare worker will need to learn how to handle them. (See Nose Bleeds.) As with any blood spill, universal infection control precautions should be practiced.

Some parents provide the school with copies of documentation on VWD that can be placed in the child's file and follow him/her from grade to grade.

It is important that daycare or school personnel can contact the parents at all times, in case of emergency. In addition, it is helpful to provide the telephone number of the nearest Hemophilia/Bleeding Disorder Treatment Centre.

Should a child with von Willebrand disease take part in physical education?

Yes. Almost all children with VWD can do the same physical activities as other children. Occasionally, children with Type 3 VWD will be unable to do certain activities or play certain sports. Children with a bleeding disorder know what they can and cannot do on a given day. The gym teacher should let the child choose those activities he/she cannot do. If the gym teacher is overly cautious or, on the other hand, refuses to let the child sit out certain activities, a meeting should be arranged to discuss the issue.

Do the child’s classmates need to know about his/her condition?

No, unless the child wants to educate his/her classmates about VWD, there is no purpose in informing classmates. After all, a child with VWD just wants to be treated normally.

What do other people need to be told about a child’s von Willebrand disease?

There is no single answer to this question. It will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • the child’s age
  • the severity of the symptoms
  • the relationship of the person to the child.

In general, people taking responsibility for the child (babysitters, sports coaches, etc.) need to know what to do in the case of bleeding. If bleeding symptoms are extremely rare, or the child is old enough to take care of any problems himself/herself, informing may not be necessary.

Parents have occasionally been suspected of child abuse when their children with bleeding disorders have been discovered with bad bruises. Being open in talking matter-of-factly about VWD with babysitters, neighbours and others may lessen the chance of this happening.