An Unhappy Christmas Story

British boy is namesake for hemophilia B

(HealthDayNews) -- In 1952, a 5-year-old British boy was found to have a little known 'bleeding disease'. It came to be formally known as 'hemophilia B'. Informally, this relatively rare affliction is called 'the Christmas disease' after Stephen Christmas, the youngster whose case was studied at Oxford University.

Today, in the United States, the Christmas disease strikes one in every 30,000 males. All share the absence in the blood of a factor that causes blood to clot. Without this factor, minor bumps and scrapes can be life-threatening.

About one in 5,000 U.S. males -- roughly 13,500 people -- is affected by Type A hemophilia. A far smaller number -- about 100,000 people, or 200 overall in the U.S. -- is affected by Type C hemophilia. Women are affected only by this type, which strikes men and women equally.

Each of the three hemophilias is caused by the absence of a different blood factor. It is important, for treatment purposes, that each type be properly diagnosed.

Hematologists are the medical specialists best trained for diagnosing and treating hemophilia and other types of blood disorders.

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