Autoimmune Disorders in Children

Autoimmune disorders are referred to different stages of autoimmune malfunction where a child’s immune system produces antibodies against self-tissue.  Autoimmune disorders range from the earliest stage called ‘autoimmune reactivity’ where antibodies are present without apparent symptoms to the end stage called ‘autoimmune diseases’ where clinical symptoms are present.  The interval between the first detection of autoantibodies asymptomatic stage until the appearance of clinical symptoms can last up to 10 years.

Detection of antibodies at earlier stages of autoimmune disorder enables timely diagnosis and treatment before specific tissue damage and organ damage occurs and thus prevent the onset of many common diseases.  Detection of these antibodies and prompt treatment can also limit tissue and organ damage in individuals who are already suffering from the symptomatic disease

Some of the childhood autoimmune diseases:          

  • Type 1 Diabetes (juvenile)
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis (AT)
  • Celiac Disease
  • Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP)
  • Juvenile Arthritis
  • Lupus (SLE)
  • Vasculitis

Causes of autoimmune disorders:

Thymus function and oral tolerance and regulatory T cells are two main mechanisms that protect our bodies against autoimmune disorders.  When one or both of these systems fail to function properly it leads to autoimmune disorders.

There are different ways that such autoimmune disorders can take hold in our bodies.  It has been theorized, for example, that maternal sensitization to ingested allergens determines whether or not such antigens are transferred to her neonate through breast milk.  There is some scientific research suggesting that childhood exposure to bacterial infections can cause abnormal immune response to gluten.  There are many studies that autoimmune disorders to food allergies and gluten sensitivities.

Some of the triggers of autoimmune disorder include:

  • Allergy
  • Infections
  • Toxins and chemicals
  • Leaky gut
  • Stress

 

Some treatment measures may include:

1-Prevention:  the best way to approach autoimmune disorders is early detection and prevention of such disorders to a disease state.

a)     Identifying genetically susceptible individuals

b)     Follow up patients with an autoimmune disorder and screen for potential additional autoimmune diseases

c)     Identifying autoantibodies

d)     Identifying  triggers

e)     Implement preventive and treatment measures

2-     Acute treatment:

a)     Identify patients at varying stages of autoimmune disease(s)

b)     Identify autoantibodies

c)     Identify triggers and other contributing causes

d)     Treatment approach consists of a comprehensive mind-body approach and includes eliminating triggers, treating any untreated infections, healing the leaky gut, discovering and treating other body’s systems affected by the autoimmune process and nutritional therapy to heal inflammation and symptoms.

2-Maintenance treatment:

a)     Avoid triggers

b)     Maintain intestinal barrier

c)     Restore the bodies normal immune function

An astute pediatrician, specializing in integrative medicine, who is well versed in identifying this disorder, its different clinical presentations and its triggers, can make potentially significant improvement in patient’s medical condition and overall state of health.

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