Childhood Lupus Spreads to Other Organs

Juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus may often affect other organs

(RxWiki News) To best deal with complications of lupus in children, doctors need to know the natural course of the disease. If they can spot which young lupus patients are at risk, they can take steps to manage the disease closely.

Children with lupus may face a high risk of major organ involvement, even if they are taking steroids.

"Treat lupus early to keep it from progressing."

To improve the understanding of juvenile lupus (lupus in children), Michael W. Beresford, PhD, of the University of Liverpool, and colleagues set out to describe the course of disease in a large group of children with the condition.

They found that it is common for other organs to become affected by lupus.

After 4.5 years, about 162 (82 percent) of 198 patients had musculoskeletal involvement (muscles and bones affected by lupus); about 158 (80 percent) had kidney involvement; about 180 (91 percent) had blood involvement; about 107 (54 percent) had immune system involvement; and about 51 (26 percent) had involvement of the nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

It was common for young lupus patients to experience damage from their disease. Specifically, about 55 (28 percent) of patients had organ damage according to the standards set by the American College of Rheumatology.

According to the authors, these findings show lupus in children may be characterized by severe organ involvement and high disease activity. In addition, children with lupus may face a high risk of organ damage caused by their condition.

These results suggest that doctors and lupus specialists may need to pay especially close attention to lupus-like symptoms in children. Close monitoring of lupus could protect children from permanent organ damage.

The study was supported by the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Alder Hey Kidney Fund and Lupus UK.

The research was published June 26 in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

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Review Date: 
July 15, 2012