ITP Causes & Risk Factors

By Stacey Feintuch

ITP, or idiopathic thrombocytopenia, is an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys platelets, cells that help blood clot. Nobody knows for sure why the immune system suddenly starts attacking these cells, but some cases appear after a viral or bacterial infection, immunizations, exposure to a medication or in association with another illnesses, such as lupus or HIV.

It’s important to recall what was happening to you or your child before having symptoms of low platelets. Sharing this information may be useful to your doctor for both diagnosing and treating ITP.

Common ITP risk factors  include:

  • Genetics. Having close relatives who have also been diagnosed with ITP can sometimes increase the risk.
  • Age. ITP can strike anyone at any age but is more common in people age 60 and older.
  • Receiving certain vaccines. Although very rare, some vaccinations can “trigger” ITP.
  • Viral infections. Sometimes, after a bout with the mumps, measles or other viruses, children can get ITP. But don’t panic—it is usually an acute form of the disease that tends to go into remission within a year.
Next - ITP Symptoms 
Published July 2011

ITP Basics
What Is ITP?
ITP Causes & Risk Factors
ITP Symptoms
ITP Diagnosis
Your ITP Healthcare Team
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Top 3 Myths About ITP


ITP Treatment
Explore Your ITP Treatment Options
New ITP Drugs Foster Platelet Growth

ITP Platelet Tracker
How Well Is Your ITP Treatment Working?
Splenectomy: Critical Information
    on This Surgery
How Medication Can Help Your ITP
Treating ITP With Corticosteroids
ITP Drug-Safety Guide

ITP Features
ITP Symptoms and Early Detection
Platelet Counts: Know Your Numbers
Be Prepared for an Emergency
    With ITP


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