Lupus in Children: It is estimated that over 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with systemic Lupus. Of that 1.5 million, 20 percent are children or adolescents. When Lupus strikes children and adolescents they usually experience a more serious course.Lupus in Children: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus ("lupus") is a chronic, autoimmune disease that affects many parts of the body. It is estimated that over 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Approximately 15- 20 percent of all cases of lupus are diagnosed before the age of 16 years. Compared with adult-onset lupus, childhood-onset lupus tends to be more active at diagnosis and follow up, involve the kidneys and require more aggressive therapy.
The symptoms of lupus are often vague, consisting of fatigue, rashes, fever, hair loss, mouth ulcers and pain or swelling of the joints. These symptoms may go on for several months before the diagnosis is made.
As recently as 40 years ago, the prognosis and survival rate for children and adolescents with lupus was poor. However, advances in treatment and diagnosis have greatly improved the chances for a child with lupus.
Lupus is a multisystem disease and no two cases of Lupus in Children are the same. Pediatric lupus patients most commonly experience mucocutaneous (skin and mucous membranes), joint, muscle and kidney problems, but other systems may be involved. For many who develop lupus as children or adolescents, there is some form of long-term and permanent damage to organs from the disease or treatment.
Complications from the medications needed for treatment and management of lupus affect the child's developing body.
The exact cause of Lupus in Children and Adolescents is not known but it is thought to be a combination of genetic factors and environmental triggers. Research in childhood lupus is crucial for preventing, treating and curing lupus. Much more research in this area needs to be done.