Postpartum von Willebrand factor levels in women with and without von Willebrand disease and implications for prophylaxis

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Abstract

Summary.

The aim of this study was to elucidate the fall in von Willebrand factor (VWF) and factor VIII activity (FVIII) after childbirth in women with and without von Willebrand disease (VWD). VWF:RCo, VWF:Ag, and FVIII were obtained in the third trimester of pregnancy, on admission for childbirth, and 10 times postpartum. Specimens were processed within 4 h and analysed centrally. Means were calculated at each time point. Forty women (40 pregnancies) without VWD and 32 women (35 pregnancies) with VWD were enrolled. 15/32 with VWD were treated (30% of those with type 1 and all of those with type 2) in 17 pregnancies. Treatments prior to delivery consisted of desmopressin (2/17), VWF concentrate (15/17) and after delivery VWF concentrate (16/17). Duration of treatment was 0–21 days (median 6). VWF levels peaked at 250% of baseline – 4 h postpartum in women with VWD and 12 h postpartum in women without VWD. Thereafter, VWF levels fell rapidly, approached baseline at 1 week and reached baseline at 3 weeks. Except immediately postpartum, when the levels among treated cases were higher, levels among women with VWD appeared to parallel, but were lower than those among women without VWD. Levels were lowest among those who received treatment. VWF levels fall rapidly after childbirth. Except immediately postpartum, current treatment strategies do not raise VWF levels to the levels of women without VWD or even to the levels of women with milder, untreated VWD. Consequently, women with VWD may be at risk of postpartum haemorrhage despite treatment.

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