For Children, Having a Blood Disorder by the Time of Lupus Diagnosis May Shape the Course of the Disease
Researchers find that children with childhood-onset lupus (cSLE) who also have autoimmune blood disorders, known as cytopenias, at or before cSLE diagnosis tend to struggle with different health issues than those who do not have cytopenias. Cytopenias are blood disorders characterized by low levels of red blood cells, white blood cells and/or platelets. Children with cytopenias have such a notably different lupus presentation, they may represent a unique sub-set of people with cSLE.
Researchers assessed medical records of nearly 400 patients with cSLE from the Emory Children’s Center/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. One out of every three children included in the study had an autoimmune cytopenia by the time they were diagnosed with cSLE. Children with cytopenias were found to be clinically distinct from the non-cytopenia group in several ways. During the two-year study period, they had:
- More neuropsychiatric symptoms
- Higher red blood cell sedimentation rates – an indication of inflammation
- More severe presentations of lupus nephritis (LN) – lupus-related kidney disease
- Lower rates of LN overall
- Less arthritis (joint inflammation)
- Less myositis (muscle inflammation)
- Less malar rash (“butterfly rash” on the nose and cheeks)
The findings support previous study results in adult populations, indicating people with autoimmune blood disorders are a distinct sub-group within the lupus population. Further research is needed to understand how and why these differences occur and what implications these differences have on lupus treatment approaches. Learn more about lupus and children.