Is the immune system okay? AIDS is the most famous disease affecting the immune system, but there are more than 70 different immunodeficiency diseases that are not caused by viruses. Together they affect millions of people worldwide. They cause children to have frequent infections or infections that are unusually hard to cure. Too often, the underlying immunodeficiency remains undiagnosed.
Jeffrey Modell was one such child. He had numerous bouts with high fevers, nausea, and other symptoms for which no cause could be determined. In between these bouts, he was a healthy, active, optimistic boy. Sadly, he died at age 15 when his immune system could not save him. Today, the Jeffrey Modell Foundation is dedicated to “the early and precise diagnosis, the meaningful treatment, and ultimate cure of primary immunodeficiencies.” Experts at the Jeffrey Modell Foundation have developed The 10 Warning Signs of Primary Immunodeficiency. If you or your child has more than one of these signs, contact your doctor about the possibility of an immunodeficiency:
Because Primary Immunodeficiencies are caused by changes to the DNA, there is no way to prevent them. However, if your child is immunocompromised (or even if they are not!) here are a few tips to help prevent infections:
MacGinnitie A. Clinical characteristics of pediatric patients evaluated for primary immunodeficiency. Pediatric Allergy Immunology 2011; 22:671–675.
Sharma D, et al. Approach to a Child with Primary Immunodeficiency Made Simple. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2017; 8(6):391-405.