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Lupus is known as “the great imitator” because many of its earliest warning signs are common in other illnesses, too. Fever, low energy, no appetite? It could be the beginning of lupus — or it might just be the flu.
Lupus is also a very shifty disease. Symptoms often come and go, new ones may crop up, while others seem to disappear. Symptoms also vary greatly from person to person, depending on what part of the body the disease is affecting at the time.
For all these reasons, diagnosing childhood lupus often requires the expertise of pediatric rheumatologists. These specialists are the best qualified to sort out the signs and symptoms of lupus from other diseases, so your child’s treatment can begin as quickly as possible.
Common symptoms of lupus include:
Compared with adults, children with lupus are more likely to have problems with vital organs, especially the kidneys and the brain. These symptoms may include:
We don’t yet know why some children develop lupus and others don’t. It’s not contagious, like measles — you can’t “catch” it from another person. It’s not a disease that parents pass directly down to their children; in fact, there’s only about a 5 percent chance that a son or daughter of someone with lupus will also develop it.
While researchers do believe that genes play a big role in causing lupus, there’s more to it than that. Otherwise, you’d expect that if one identical twin has lupus, the other would, too — but that’s often not the case. Instead, there’s likely a two-part process involved in causing lupus:
Scientists are now working to discover which genes are involved in lupus — and how its potential disease triggers work — in order to bring us closer to curing or even preventing this chronic illness.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”