Myths about Hemophilia

Myth: Only males inherit bleeding disorders.

Genetically speaking, boys inherit hemophilia from their mother, who is a carrier. However, girls can also be symptomatic carriers (meaning they are subject to mild bleeds) or have von Willebrand disease, which affects both males and females equally.

Myth: Hemophilia can be outgrown, or severe cases can become mild over time.

Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder caused by the absence of an essential blood clotting protein. A person will always have the same level of factor deficiency they were born with.

Myth: If a person with hemophilia gets cut, they will bleed to death.

The truth is that a person with hemophilia will bleed longer (in some cases, much longer) than someone with a normal level of clotting factor. In most cases, the bleed will stop, usually through an emergency treatment of factor.

Myth: If a person takes iron, certain vitamins, or eats peanut butter, hemophilia can be cured.

Since hemophilia is characterized by a specific clotting factor that is missing, none of these “treatments” will change this fact.

Myth: Hemophilia is the same for all patients: everyone with hemophilia has the same level of deficiency.

There three recognized levels to describe hemophilia: mild (clotting activity above 5%), moderate (clotting level between 1% and 5%), and severe (clotting level less than 1%).

Myth: A person with hemophilia cannot live a normal life.

With prophylaxis treatment (infusing a small amount of factor into one's system on a regular, prescribed basis), a person with hemophilia is able to enjoy a normal, active lifestyle.

Myth: Everyone who has hemophilia is a direct descendant from Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria's family tree is perhaps the most famous collection of documented hemophilia cases. However, even though hemophilia is an inherited disease, there has been documentation of the transmission of hemophilia from unaffected mothers (those without a genetic history of hemophilia) to their sons from as far back as 1803. This means that the genetic component of hemophilia is not directly traceable to Queen Victoria.