- Psychological and social burdens. “Having to deal with a difficult chronic disease like lupus is so emotionally and socially difficult for children. These children have to deal with the symptoms of lupus plus the side effects of medications while they are trying to fit in at school and keep up with their friends. They often have to see many different types of doctors and this requires a huge time commitment. Plus, somebody has to take the time to get them to all these appointments. Psychological and family issues are inevitable,” notes MacDermott. “One of the biggest challenges in treating pediatric lupus is trying to help the child live as normal a life as possible.”
Despite the fact that childhood lupus is a serious, chronic disease, the 5- and 10-year survival rates are similar to those of adult lupus, with close to 90 percent of pediatric lupus patients surviving after 10 years. “Our pediatric patients with lupus have been born into a lucky age. Our ability to treat them is improving and there is a lot of hope in future lupus treatment research. Despite the tremendous burdens these children endure we have been gratified to see many of them go on to marry, have families, and lead productive lives,” says MacDermott.