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Open Access Research

Clinical and laboratory characteristics of adolescents with platelet function disorders and heavy menstrual bleeding

Lawrence S Amesse12*, Teresa Pfaff-Amesse1, William T Gunning3, Nancy Duffy2 and James A French2

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Department of OB-GYN, Section of Pediatric-Adolescent Gynecology, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Dayton, OH, USA

2 Division of Pediatric Hematology & Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Dayton, OH, USA

3 Department of Pathology, University of Toledo College of Medicine, Dayton, OH, USA

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Experimental Hematology & Oncology 2013, 2:3  doi:10.1186/2162-3619-2-3

Published: 24 January 2013



Platelet function disorders (PFDs) have emerged as an important etiology of heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) in adolescents. However, neither clinical nor laboratory data have been methodically analyzed in this population subset. The objective of this study was to evaluate these parameters in order to distinguish characteristics of the disorder that in turn will lead to earlier diagnosis and therapy initiation.


Retrospective review of medical records from postmenarcheal adolescents with documented PFDs referred to a hemophilia treatment center and university faculty practices for bleeding diatheses with their clinical and laboratory data evaluated.


Of 63 teens with documented PFDs, HMB was the most common clinical manifestation of PFD (43; 68.3%). Of these, 37 (86%) were diagnosed with PFD either at or after menarche with the diagnosis based on HMB symptoms alone. Only 6 (14%) were diagnosed with a PFD prior to menarche, based on associated bleeding, i.e., epistaxis, ecchymosis, and all developed HMB after menstruation onset. Interestingly, 20 girls were diagnosed with a PFD prior to menarche and of these, only 6 (30%) went on to develop HMB after pubertal transition, while the majority (14; 70%) did not. The average age-at-PFD diagnosis was 14.5yrs, significantly differing from the 10.9yrs average age-at-PFD diagnosis in their counterparts that, after menarche, did not develop HMB (P<.01) Blood type O occurred significantly more frequently (76%) than national norms (P <.037). Incidence of δ-Storage Pool deficiency (δ-SPD) was significantly higher (74%) than their non-HMB cohorts (45%) (P <.007). Coagulation and von Willebrand factor studies were all normal. Abnormal closure times and aggregation studies were observed in 42% and 60%, respectively, of tested girls. In 25.6% for whom standard platelet studies were normal, electron microscopy detected reduced platelet δ-granules numbers (δ-SPD).


Adolescents with PFDs and HMB appear to be clinically distinct from their non-HMB counterparts. This group of girls is characterized by HMB the major bleeding symptom, significantly high incidences of blood group O and the δ-SPD with a PFD diagnosed well after menarche. High false negative standard platelet function study results indicate additional diagnostic strategies, particularly for δ-SPD, should be considered.

Platelet function disorders; Adolescents; Heavy menstrual bleeding; Menorrhagia; δ-Storage Pool Deficiency (δ-SPD)