Haemophilia is a relatively rare, inherited condition that causes problems with blood clotting.This means that, if a tissue is injured or damaged and blood vessels are broken, bleeding continues for longer than normal. Some bleeding episodes are obvious for all to see – such as when the skin is cut or broken. Others are less easy to spot but potentially more damaging – bleeding into or around the joints, for example, is harder to detect, but even more important to prevent.
Haemophilia comes in two different forms:
- Haemophilia A is the most common form, affecting one in 5000 males.
- Haemophilia B is the rarer form and is sometimes called Christmas disease after the first person in which it was identified many years ago. It affects around one in 30,000 males.
Haemophilia can affect girls and boys, and men and women of all races. However, the way haemophilia is inherited means that the overwhelming majority of sufferers are male and 'carriers' are always female. Most people with haemophilia are diagnosed with the condition in infancy or childhood although, in milder cases, a diagnosis may not be made until later in life.
The severity of haemophilia can range from mild, through moderate, to severe.