• episodic treatment;
  • Haemo-QoL;
  • hemarthrosis;
  • hemophilia A;
  • prophylaxis;
  • quality of life

Summary. Background: Prevention of arthropathy is a major goal of hemophilia treatment. While studies in adults have demonstrated an impact of prophylaxis on the incidence of joint bleeds and patients’ well-being in terms of improved quality of life (QoL), it is unclear whether or not prophylaxis influences the outcome and perception of well- of children with hemophilia. Objective: This randomized controlled study compared the efficacy of prophylaxis with episodic therapy in preventing hemarthroses and image-proven joint damage in children with severe hemophilia A (factor VIII <1%) over a 10-year time period. Methods: Forty-five children with severe hemophilia A, aged 1–7 years (median 4), with negative clinical-radiologic joint score at entry and at least one bleed during the previous 6 months, were consecutively randomized to prophylaxis with recombinant factor VIII (25 IU kg−1 3 × week) or episodic therapy with ≥25 IU kg−1 every 12–24 h until complete clinical bleeding resolution. Safety, feasibility, direct costs and QoL were also evaluated. Results: Twenty-one children were assigned to prophylaxis, 19 to episodic treatment. Children on prophylaxis had fewer hemarthroses than children on episodic therapy: 0.20 vs. 0.52 events per patient per month (P < 0.02). Plain-film radiology showed signs of arthropathy in six patients on prophylaxis (29%) vs. 14 on episodic treatment (74%) (P < 0.05). Prophylaxis was more effective when started early (≤36 months), with patients having fewer joint bleeds (0.12 joint bleeds per patient per month) and no radiologic signs of arthropathy. Conclusion: This randomized trial confirms the efficacy of prophylaxis in preventing bleeds and arthropathy in children with hemophilia, particularly when it is initiated early in life.