BACKGROUND: The aim of the present study was to assess management strategies for immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) among Italian paediatric haematologists, and to compare these with those of recent international guidelines. Predictors of early remission or disease chronicity were also evaluated.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: During a period of 1 year, 205 children (age: 1 month-18 years) with newly diagnosed ITP were prospectively enrolled by 16 centres belonging to the Italian Association of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (AIEOP). We collected the subjects demographic data, history, clinical symptoms, platelet count and treatment at presentation and at subsequent visits.
RESULTS: Of the 205 patients, 47 (23%) were initially managed with a wait-and-see approach. Compared to these patients, children administered platelet-enhancing therapies were significantly younger (median age: 4.75 vs 7.96 years; p<0.001) and had lower platelet counts. At the 3-month follow-up, 92/202 patients (46%) had persistent ITP. Recovery within 3 months was predicted by younger median age (5.3 vs 7.8 years; p<0.001), and recent viral infection (p<0.001) . At 1 year, 56 patients had chronic ITP, which was associated with older median age (7.54 vs 5.35 years; p<0.001), and a family history of autoimmunity (p<0.05; relative risk: 1.81; 95% confidence interval: 1.09-2.98). In total, 357 pharmacological treatments were recorded (216 intravenous immunoglobulins, 80 steroids). Response to intravenous immunoglobulins did not have an effect on remission rate at 12 months.
DISCUSSION: Pediatric hematologists in Italian Centre treat over three-quarters of patients with newly diagnosed ITP, despite recent international guidelines. Almost 80% of patients with mild clinical symptoms received pharmacological treatment at diagnosis, which was significantly associated with younger age. Chronicity at 12 months was not affected by different therapeutic approaches at diagnosis or response to therapy.