Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders (Immune Deficiency)

Immune_DeficiencyWhat Are Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders?

These disorders weaken the immune system, the body’s defense mechanism, meaning that infections and other health issues are more likely.

What Causes Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders?

Many of these more than 300 disorders are inherited from one or both parents through the genetic material they share with their children. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Primary Immune Disorder?

The most prominent sign of a primary immunodeficiency disorder is having frequent, longer-lasting infections.

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Repeated bouts of pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis, or skin infections
  • Inflammation/infection of organs
  • Digestive problems, such as poor appetite, belly pain, and diarrhea
  • Failure to thrive/poor weight gain
  • Autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes
  • Blood problems such as low platelet counts or anemia

How is Immune Deficiency Diagnosed?

Mild forms of primary immunodeficiency may go undetected for years. Some are so significant that they are diagnosed soon after birth.

What Can I Do About Immune Deficiency?

If your child has a primary immune disorder, it’s important to do all you can to protect him or her from infection. This includes:  

  • Ensuring that the child eats a healthful diet
  • Making sure they get the recommended hours of sleep nightly according to age, and that they maintain a good sleep routine
  • Steering clear of family and friends who have colds or the flu and avoiding large gatherings as much as possible.
  • Ensuring that they wash their hands frequently and brush their teeth twice daily.

Your doctor can advise you of other strategies to help keep your child well.

What Treatment is Available for Immunodeficiency Disorders (Immune Deficiency)?

There are three facets of treatment for patients who have primary immunodeficiency: preventing and managing infections; reinforcing the immune system through immunoglobulin, interferon-gamma, or growth factor therapy; and treating the underlying cause.

Ongoing research is leading to improved treatments.

Learn about treatment at Lifespan for more pediatric asthma and allergy conditions »