If your child's pediatrician has referred you to a hematologist for testing, this doctor will first take a blood sample and complete a series of tests to decide where irregularities in the blood are present. The hematologist will discuss the results of the blood tests, and if the blood is abnormal, he or she will discuss treatment options with you and your child. A pediatric hematologist has been specially trained in working with children who may be facing a life-threatening disease.
Pediatric hematologists treat children of all ages, from newborns to young adults. Some of the well-known blood disorders that afflict children include sickle-cell disease, AIDS, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, lymphoma, leukemia, infectious mononucleosis, malaria and anemia.
They also treat bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, which occur from an abnormal number of platelets. Blood clots develop when the body produces too many platelets, and when not enough platelets are present, excess bleeding can result, both externally and internally.
The most common blood diseases due to abnormal levels of platelets are anemia and lymphocytopenia. Anemia results from a low number of white blood cells, which leads to an insufficient amount of oxygen in various body tissues. When lymphocytes (a special type of white blood cell) become too low, the result is a lowered immune response to infection.
Depending on the child and the specified blood disorder, a hematologist may recommend such treatments as a simple change in diet, blood transfusion, oral medication, radiation, chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant, as well as a variety of other treatment options.