Immune system is responsible for fighting diseases and foreign bodies that invade the body enabling us stay in the pink. However, when the powerful protection system works against our own body instead of foreign substances for some unknown reasons, it results in autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease can occur at any age even in young children. Though such a condition is rare in children, it is scary and worrisome when a child is diagnosed with one.
Many of the autoimmune diseases disappear as the child grows into an adult while some will have to deal with it lifelong. However, with advanced treatments and therapies, these diseases can be managed and kept under control so that the child leads a healthy and happy life. Here in this read, we have listed few most prevalent autoimmune diseases reported in children.
Autoimmune Diseases In Children
1. Type I Diabetes
Type I diabetes is a carbohydrate metabolism disorder that results in the destruction of the beta cells (insulin producing cells) in the pancreas. It is a common chronic disease in young children which with proper attention paid toward maintaining blood glucose levels through insulin therapy, special diets and exercise, children can maintain good health, but if left untreated it can result in fatal conditions.
2. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is most prevalent chronic autoimmune disease that appears in children. With the exact cause unclear, this condition causes anxiety as it affects the lifestyle of children by affecting the joints. Sudden swelling of joints and high fever can be the first sign of the disease followed by stiffness, inflammation and pain in the joints. Medications, exercises and physical therapy will help promote not only optimal growth, but also better physical activities and social development.
3. Celiac Disease
A permanent intolerance to gluten, a protein present in many grass grains is Celiac disease. When a person with Celiac disease takes gluten, it causes damages to the villi, the microscopic projections lining the intestine and responsible for absorption of nutrients. Though there is no treatment for the condition, with changes in diet such as taking gluten-free diet will enable children to live a long happy life.
4. Juvenile Dermatomyositis
A condition that causes rashes on the skin and inflammation of muscles resulting in weak muscles in children is called juvenile dermatomyositis. It is an autoimmune disease, which is completely different from that of dermatomyositis in adults. Children with this no cure condition can lead a healthy life with effective treatments, physical therapy and regular exercises.
Lupus or systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease with unpredictable signs and symptoms. The disease affects many parts of the body at the same time. It affects the skin, blood, joints, heart, kidneys, etc. Once the disease has been diagnosed, it could be scary, but with proper treatment, medications, therapies and counseling, the disease can be kept under control.
6. Liver Disease
Autoimmune liver disease is of two types – autoimmune sclerosing cholangitis and autoimmune hepatitis. The autoimmune liver disease is usually seen in about 2% children in specialized pediatric centers. Autoimmune hepatitis is a condition wherein the immune system of the body malfunctions and the liver is attacked causing inflammation.
In this chronic and rare autoimmune condition, normal tissues in the body are replaced with thick, dense scar tissue. This disease affects the skin or other internal organs. Localized scleroderma is common in children, whereas the systemic sclerosis is a rare condition in children. Although there is no cure for this condition, with proper diagnosis scleroderma can be controlled.