Moms Raise "Red Flag" about the Dangers of Widely Undiagnosed Bleeding Disorder

National Campaign Highlights Signs, Symptoms, Impact on Families of
von Willebrand Disease

King of Prussia, PA — 01 October 2008

Click to play VWD Video 7:20
National Hemophilia Foundation
Project Red Flag

While an estimated 2.8 million Americans are affected by the most common hereditary bleeding disorder, von Willebrand disease (VWD), most don't even know they have it. VWD affects both men and women but, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it takes a woman an average of 16 years to receive a diagnosis. Now a group of mothers with VWD have joined together to focus attention on the need for more communication between mothers and their children about signs, symptoms and potentially severe health consequences of this disease.

"Growing up I never knew that what I was experiencing - the bruising and the heavy periods that would last for days - had a name," said Jeanette Cesta, 45, who wasn't diagnosed until she was in her 20s. "Because of my diagnosis I was able to ensure that my three children were tested early and received the proper treatment for their VWD."

The National Hemophilia Foundation's Project Red Flag campaign, Real Talk About Women's Bleeding Disorders, educates women about VWD by shining light on the signs and symptoms of the disease which can often present in childhood and puberty. Mothers with VWD are sharing their own stories of diagnosis and treatment to encourage more open communication and family awareness that easy bruising, frequent nosebleeds, and prolonged and heavy menstruation can be symptoms of the disease. Earlier diagnosis is crucial for women with VWD as they are at greater risk for such serious complications as miscarriage, life-threatening bleeding following surgery or childbirth, and undergoing unnecessary hysterectomies, even though their condition can be managed medically.

To help address these issues, The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently issued the first-ever clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of VWD, providing health professionals with evidence-based recommendations on screening, diagnosis, disease management, and directions for future research.

"Von Willebrand disease can be diagnosed from the patient's history and the results of blood tests," said Peter Kouides, M.D, medical and research director of the Mary M. Gooley Hemophilia Treatment Center in Rochester, N.Y. "While there is no cure for VWD, treatment is available and can help prevent complications. But the disorder must be properly diagnosed."

Project Red Flag is NHF's national public awareness campaign created to educate women and their doctors about diagnosing and treating bleeding disorders, and it is supported by an educational grant from CSL Behring.

"Von Willebrand disease is a serious health issue for women," said Val Bias, chief executive officer of the National Hemophilia Foundation. "We encourage all women to increase their knowledge of bleeding disorders and to see their doctor immediately if they suspect they have symptoms."

Know the Five Signs of a Bleeding Disorder

  • Easy bruising of the limbs
  • Frequent or prolonged nosebleeds
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Prolonged bleeding after injury, childbirth or surgery
  • Prolonged bleeding during dental work

If you have one or more of these symptoms, contact your primary care physician. You may be need to be screened for a bleeding disorder.

For more information on VWD, visit the Project Red Flag web site at or call the National Hemophilia Foundation's Information Resource Center at 1-800-42-HANDI ( Trained staff members are available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST to answer your requests.

About the National Hemophilia Foundation and Project Red Flag
The National Hemophilia Foundation is dedicated to finding better treatments and cures for bleeding and clotting disorders and to preventing the complications of these disorders through education, advocacy and research.

Established in 1948, the National Hemophilia Foundation is a non profit 501(c)3 organization with chapters throughout the country. Its programs and initiatives are made possible through the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations as well as through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information about the National Hemophilia Foundation visit .

About CSL Behring
CSL Behring is a global leader in the plasma protein biotherapeutics industry. Passionate about improving the quality of patients' lives, CSL Behring manufactures and markets a range of safe and effective plasma-derived and recombinant products and related services. The company's therapies are used in the treatment of immune deficiency disorders, hemophilia, von Willebrand disease, other bleeding disorders and inherited emphysema. Products include Humate P® Antihemophilic Factor/von Willebrand Factor Complex (Human) Dried, Pasteurized, for the treatment of von Willebrand Disease, and Helixate® FS, a recombinant factor VIII treatment for hemophilia A. Other products are used for the prevention of hemolytic diseases in the newborn, in cardiac surgery, organ transplantation and in the treatment of burns. The company also operates one of the world's largest plasma collection networks, ZLB Plasma. CSL Behring is a subsidiary of CSL Limited, a biopharmaceutical company with headquarters in Melbourne, Australia. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:
Sheila A. Burke, Director, Communications & Public Relations
Worldwide Commercial Operations
CSL Behring

LinkedIn Twitter Facebook Google+