Is Hyperviscosity Syndrome?
Hyperviscosity syndrome is a condition in which blood isn’t able
to flow freely through your arteries. You may have arterial blockages due to
too many red blood cells, white blood cells, or proteins in your bloodstream.
This syndrome is most common in infants and children. It can affect their
growth by reducing blood flow to vital organs, such as the kidneys and brain.
Are the Symptoms of Hyperviscosity Syndrome?
The symptoms associated with this condition include headaches,
seizures, and a reddish tone to the skin. If your infant is unusually sleepy or
doesn’t want to feed normally, this is an indication that something is wrong.
Generally, the symptoms associated with this condition are the result of
complications that occur when vital organs don’t receive enough oxygen through
Other symptoms of hyperviscosity syndrome include:
Causes Hyperviscosity Syndrome?
This syndrome occurs when your level of total red blood cells is
above 65 percent. In infants, this can be caused by numerous conditions that
develop during gestation or at birth. These include:
- improper clamping of the umbilical cord
- diseases inherited from the parents
- birth defects
- gestational diabetes
It can also be caused by situations in which there isn’t enough
oxygen delivered to the tissues in your child’s body. Twin-to-twin
transfusion syndrome, a condition in which twins share blood between them
in the uterus, may be another cause.
Hyperviscosity syndrome can also be caused by conditions that
affect the bones, including:
- leukemia, which is a cancer of the
- polycythemia vera, which occurs
when bone marrow produces too many red blood cells
- essential thrombocytosis, which occurs
when bone marrow produces too many blood platelets
- myelodysplastic disorders, which are blood
disorders that can lead to severe anemia
Is at Risk for Hyperviscosity Syndrome?
This condition mainly affects infants, but it can continue
throughout adulthood. This will depend on whether or not you responded to or
received the appropriate treatment during childhood. Your baby is at a higher
risk of developing this syndrome if you have a family history of it.
Also, those who have a history of serious bone conditions are at
a greater risk of developing hyperviscosity syndrome.
Is Hyperviscosity Syndrome Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects that your infant has this syndrome, they’ll
order a blood test to determine the amount of red blood cells in your child’s
bloodstream. Other tests may be necessary to reach a diagnosis. These may
Also, your doctor may find that your infant is experiencing
things like jaundice, kidney failure, or breathing problems as a result of the
Is Hyperviscosity Syndrome Treated?
If your baby’s doctor determines that your baby has
hyperviscosity syndrome, your baby will be monitored for possible
complications. Your doctor may decide that your baby needs a blood transfusion
to decrease the amount of red blood cells in their bloodstream. You or another
family member may provide blood for the transfusion if you have a matching
Your doctor may also recommend giving more fluids to your baby to
reduce blood thickness. If your baby doesn’t respond to feedings, you may need
to get fluids intravenously.
If hyperviscosity syndrome is caused by an underlying condition
such as leukemia, the underlying condition needs to be properly treated first or
the symptoms will probably continue.
Is the Long-Term Outlook?
If your baby has only had a mild case of the syndrome and they
get treatment, there’s a good chance for recovery. Some children who’ve been
diagnosed with this syndrome have neurological problems later on. This is
generally the result of a lack of oxygen being delivered to the brain and other
vital organs. Contact your baby’s doctor if you believe your baby may be having
complications or if you have noticed any unusual changes.
Complications may occur if the diagnosis is more severe or if your
baby isn’t responding to treatment. These complications can include:
death of intestinal tissue
Be sure to report any symptoms your baby is having to their
doctor right away.