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What is Hemophilia?

Hemophilia is an inherited coagulation disorder. Blood contains proteins, called clotting factors, which work to stop bleeding. People with hemophilia have a low level or absence of one of these clotting factors.

The lack of a clotting factor causes people with hemophilia to bleed for longer periods of time than people whose blood factor levels are normal. People with hemophilia do not bleed faster than other people, and will not bleed to death from a minor cut or injury. The biggest fear with patients who have hemophilia is unnoticed or uncontrolled internal bleeding, mainly into muscles and joints.

Hemophilia is usually an inherited disease, passed to a child from a mother carrying the hemophilia, known as a “carrier.” About one-third of new cases stem from a new mutation of the gene in the mother or child; in such cases, there may be no previous family history of hemophilia.

The most common and most severe forms of hemophilia primarily occur in males. Because a female can be seriously affected only if her father has hemophilia and her mother is a carrier of the gene, severe hemophilia is rare in females. However, many women who are carriers of the hemophilia gene have mild symptoms of hemophilia.

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