When It Hurts to be a Kid: Pediatric Autoimmune Diseases

Just how far does the apple fall from the tree?

One in 12 people in the Western hemisphere suffer from autoimmune diseases such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

A study published online in Nature Communications explained why various autoimmune diseases can be inherited. The focus of the study was understanding the genetics of these diseases, like common type 1 diabetes. Data was gathered by co-authors from more than 20 research centers and hospitals.

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Nine autoimmune diseases that affect children were included in the study and it is hoped that the outcome will be a greater ability to predict a child’s chances of having an autoimmune disease.

Pediatric-onset autoimmune diseases (pAIDs) include celiac disease, common variable immunodeficiency disease (CVID), type 1 diabetes, ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. The team analyzed data from 5,000 unrelated children with pAIDs, and 36,000 healthy children.

It has been determined previously that patients often have more than one autoimmune disease, and several of the pAIDs have been commonly linked: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are an example. Also of note, the diseases with the largest hereditary factor are type 1 diabetes and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Scientists are looking for opportunities for targeted drug therapies based on a genetic profiling.

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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