Excerpt from LUPUS IN CHILDHOOD, an article by Phyllis Slutsky, RN and Barbara Ostrov, MD

About 20-25% of all lupus occurs in children. While the exact number of cases is not known, it is not a rare disorder. Girls have lupus about three to seven times more often than boys. Research is being done to study many possible causes of lupus. Several studies have shown that there is a tendency for lupus to run in families.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in childhood can range from mild to severe and affects each individual differently. The usual course of lupus includes periods of "flare-ups" (when symptoms are active) and remissions (when symptoms go away). Stressors such as infections (which may be more frequent in childhood) and hormonal changes may lead to a flare of symptoms. This may explain why lupus is more common in girls after puberty and may flare up during menstruation and pregnancy. In children, as in adults, sun exposure can bring on symptoms of lupus. Serious complications of lupus are most common when organs such as kidneys, heart or the central nervous system.

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