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What Is Pediatric Hematology?

A pediatric hematologist analyzes and treats blood diseases that affect children and adolescents.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2014
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Pediatric hematology is the area of study, diagnosis, and treatment of children and adolescents involving blood and diseases that affect the blood. Doctors who specialize in pediatric hematology are referred to as pediatric hematologists. This form of hematology typically focuses on blood disorders and cancers that affect the blood. Some of the possible blood disorders that fall into this category include sickle cell disease, leukemia, and lymphoma. Any questions or concerns about pediatric hematology or whether a hematologist should be consulted in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Blood disorders affecting red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets fall into the category of pediatric hematology. These disorders may include anemia, lymphocytopenia, or bleeding disorders caused by an abnormal number of platelets. Anemia is a term used to describe a low number of white blood cells, resulting in insufficient oxygen in the various tissues of the body. Lymphocytopenia occurs when the number of lymphocytes, special types of white blood cells, are too low, resulting in a lowered immune response to infection.

Abnormal platelet levels often result in bleeding disorders that are grouped into the category of pediatric hematology. Too many platelets are likely to cause the development of blood clots, while too few can cause excess bleeding, both internally and externally. The treatment for blood disorders depends on the exact cause and may involve the use of prescription medications, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment.

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Some forms of cancer are particularly common among children and adolescents, and the diagnosis and treatment of these cancers are a part of the study of pediatric hematology. Leukemia affects both the blood and the bone marrow and often involves an abnormal increase in the number of white blood cells in the body. Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphocytes, the type of white blood cells that helps the body to fight infection.

Treatment for the various diseases and disorders involved in pediatric hematology depends on the individual diagnosis. For example, anemia can usually be treated successfully with an iron supplement. Some blood disorders can be treated at home, while others require close medical supervision in a hospital setting. More severe diseases, such as cancer, may involve the use of radiation, chemotherapy, or surgical intervention. The doctor will help the patient and any caregivers to decide on an appropriate treatment plan in each individual situation.

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