According to a story from ScienceDaily, a recent analysis has been conducted in order to investigate patient outcomes for children with the rare skin condition Stevens-Johnson syndrome, as well its more severe variant toxic epidermal necrolysis. The study found that, over all, the rates of recurrence and death were lower in children when compared to adults.
About Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is a severe type of skin reaction. Toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) is a more severe type in which a greater portion of skin is involved, and death is also substantially more likely. Causes of Stevens-Johnson syndrome are varied, and include certain drugs (lamotrigine, allopurinol, nevirapine)and infections from the bacteria Myocplasma pneumoniae and cytomegalovirus. Infections are a more common cause in pediatric cases. In some cases, the cause is not known, but other risk factors include HIV/AIDs and lupus. Stevens-Johnson syndrome often begins with flu-like symptoms, flat spots on the skin that develop into large blisters, and blisters and erosions on mucosal surfaces, such as the mouth, genitals, and eyes. Treatment often requires admission to a burn unit for two or three weeks. However, complete recovery can take a couple of months, and some patients are left with long-term complications afterwards. To learn more about Stevens-Johnson syndrome, click here.
The study found that, while children were less likely to die from SJS/TEN, they experienced a high degree of complications and treatment approaches for pediatric cases were not very consistent. This results in longer, more expensive stays at the hospital.
Dr. James Antoon, who authored the study, says that despite the rarity of these skin reactions, the majority of pediatricians could encounter a case over the course of their careers. The lack of consistent treatment approaches is also partly due to the sporadic and unpredictable nature of SJS/TEN, which means that intensive studies to measure the effectiveness of treatments are difficult to conduct.
The data from the study was drawn from 900 patients with a mean age of ten years. The study found that one in four patients were admitted to intensive care and that one in five had to be readmitted to the hospital after their initial release. There were multiple approaches to treatment used in these cases, but none appeared to stand out as superior. Clearly, more research should be done to find a treatment that reduces hospital stays, complications, and cost.