The immune system is the body’s defense against pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungus. Autoimmune diseases are a result of the immune system attacking the body’s cells and tissues. There are more than 80 identified autoimmune diseases and they are divided into two categories. Tissue or organ-specific autoimmune diseases such as Celiac and Crohn’s disease target only one organ or group of tissues. Systemic diseases such as lupus cause damage throughout the body. Lupus occurs when the immune system develops antibodies that attack tissues in the lungs, joints, kidneys, nerves, and blood cells. These diseases may happen in all ages. To know all about child autoimmune diseases view this site.
Risk factors for child autoimmune diseases include:
- Genetics and family history- Approximately one-third of childhood autoimmune diseases are associated with genetic disorders.
- Gender – Girls develop autoimmune disease three times more often than boys.
- Age- Autoimmune diseases in childhood usually start showing symptoms
- Ethnicity- Some autoimmune diseases are more common in certain ethnicities
- Multiple Illnesses- A diagnosis of one autoimmune disease increases the risk of developing additional autoimmune diseases.
The causes of most autoimmune diseases have not been identified yet. Researchers believe some diseases are triggered by toxins in the environment, certain medications, infections, or hormonal factors. Some researchers theorize that type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, may be caused by an unidentified virus.
It may be difficult to determine if a child has an autoimmune disease. Each disease causes a different set of specific symptoms, and nonspecific symptoms often mimic other common childhood illnesses. Nonspecific symptoms include fever, weight loss, dry eyes, joint pain, dizziness, hair loss, and rashes.
Anti-inflammatory medications relieve discomfort, while occupational, speech, and physical therapy help children manage symptoms. Drugs to suppress the immune system are the most common treatment for autoimmune disease. Other treatment options include intravenous plasma, surgery, or specific interventions. Celiac disease is managed by avoiding gluten and type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin.