Ask the expert: Is it OK for children with ITP to participate in sports?

By Michelle Ponte

Playing sports and participating in physical activities are a natural part of everyday life when you’re young. So, it’s important to come up with a game plan before your child asks to play soccer or gymnastics. Your doctor is your greatest resource in this area. He or she will want to check platelet counts (remember: normal is 150,000 to 400,000) and review your child’s current health condition to learn about any symptoms, such as bleeding, bruising, fatigue and petechiae.

“ITP doesn’t preclude the ability to exercise,” says Mike Tarantino, MD, a board-certified pediatric hematologist in Peoria, IL. “Exercise and fitness should be part of everyone’s life even if they have ITP. It can be customized to almost any person in any clinical situation.”

That being said, Tarantino suggests considering certain platelet guidelines before your child begins a sport. Those with lower platelet counts need to stick to non-contact, low-impact exercise, he adds, noting that he also reviews a list of sports and physical activity guidelines published by National Hemophilia Foundation with his patients.

Remember to talk to your teen about the risks vs. the benefits of participating in certain activities. Ultimately, they won't be able to play some sports. But you can help them work through the frustration by talking about it and finding an alternate sports or activity.

ITP sports guidelines

Always talk to your doctor before saying “yes” to a new activity. Here are general guidelines to consider with your doctor.

If your child’s platelet counts are below 75,000, he should avoid playing high-contact,
high-risk sports such as:

Rock climbing

If your child’s platelet counts are 30,000 to 75,000, he may be able to play or do:

Mountain biking
Skiing and snowboarding

*Talk to your doctor about activities that are safe for a platelet count below 30,000.

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