How Systemic Lupus Affects Children

Special Concerns for Children With Lupus

Children and teens with lupus commonly exhibit symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and weight loss. The most common body systems involved are the skin, kidneys, and musculoskeletal system.

Symptoms of lupus are treated in children much the same as they are in adults. “We use the same battery of drugs in children that are used in adult lupus,” says MacDermott. However, two areas of pediatric lupus deserve special attention:

  • Cognitive development. Problem solving, memory, attention span, behavior control, and verbal ability are all examples of cognition. In the past, neurological affects of lupus in children were thought to be limited to seizures and psychiatric symptoms. Today cognitive impairment is believed to affect up to 59 percent of children and teens with systemic lupus. Children and teens are at special risk for cognitive impairment because these functions are actively developing during childhood and are not completely developed until early adulthood. Psychological support and educational help are essential parts of lupus treatment for these children.

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