A Guide to the Use of Anticoagulant Drugs in Children
Increasing thrombotic complications in children with complex medication conditions have led to more widespread use of anticoagulants [Raffini et al. in Pediatrics 124(4):1001–8, 2009]. While current guidelines for the management of antithrombotic therapy in neonates and children exist, they are based on low- and very low-quality evidence [Monagle et al. in Chest 141(2 Suppl):e737–801S, 2012]. Despite numerous differences, current anticoagulation practice is largely extrapolated from adult studies. This is sub-optimal, particularly in neonates who have a rapidly evolving hemostatic system. The majority of pediatric patients have underlying medical conditions that may significantly influence drug choice and bleeding risk. This article reviews the use of anticoagulants in children with thrombosis, focusing on practical aspects such as dosing, monitoring, and complications. Low molecular weight heparin has become the preferred anticoagulant in children, although unfractionated heparin and warfarin remain frequently used. Other anticoagulants, including fondaparinux, direct thrombin inhibitors, and the newer target-specific oral anticoagulants are also discussed. Given the many unique challenges surrounding the use of anticoagulants in children, pediatric hospitals should have written practice guidelines as well as experienced providers to care for children with thrombosis. This is an evolving field, and further studies of the use of anticoagulants in neonates and children are greatly needed to help optimize care.
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