October 28th, 2010
03:21 PM ET
How serious is selective IgA deficiency?
As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.
From Indu, Waukesha, Wisconsin
"My 3-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with selective IgA deficiency. I am really worried. Can you please tell me what is this? What are her risk factors and will she live a normal life? Since three months she has had recurrent sinusitis infections and her blood test showed this deficiency ( IgA =6), No one in our family has this and both my husband and I are quite healthy. What are her options, treatment and any latest information/research in this field?"
Indu, Thank you for your question. I know, as a parent, that it can be scary when the doctor tells you that something isn’t quite normal with your child, and you want to understand what may be wrong.
The immune system protects us from harmful substances—called antigens—which include bacteria, viruses, toxins, fungus, cancer cells, and allergens. When the body senses the presence of an antigen, it fights it with antibodies, which attach to the foreign substance and help the immune system to destroy them. When the immune system doesn’t produce enough antibodies to fight the antigens it’s called an immunodeficiency disorder.
You indicated that your daughter has experienced recurrent sinus infections since she was 3 months old, which is probably why her physician tested her immunity levels —to find out why she might not be fighting off her recurring infections. The immunoglobulin test is a tool that medical professionals can use to help diagnose when the immune system isn’t working properly. People can be born with immunodeficiencies or acquire them through illness or as a side effect of medications. When a child has frequent or unusual infections, doctors may suspect an immunodeficiency.
Our bodies produce five types of antibodies including IgA, which is found in mucous membranes, IgG which is found in all body fluids and fights bacterial and viral infections, IgM, found in blood and lymph fluid and is the first line of defense fighting new infections, IgE, which fights allergic reactions, and IgD which is found in the blood and whose function is still uncertain to immunologists. IgA, IgG and IgM are often measured together because they can give useful information about how the immune system is functioning toward infection or autoimmune diseases.
Selective deficiency of IgA is the most common immune disorder and is less harmful than other disorders, according to information from the National Institutes of Health. People with this condition have low or deficient levels of immunoglobulin A, the antibody that protects the body and is found in high concentrations in mucous membranes in the respiratory passages, gastrointestinal tract, as well as in tears and saliva.
Emory University pediatric allergist Dr. Karen DeMuth said “I would never diagnose a child that age with selective deficiency of IgA,” explaining that more information is needed about her case, and adding that children's immune systems are not fully developed at her age. DeMuth strongly advises that your daughter have a consultation with an immunologist, and she notes that the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is an excellent resource for finding a specialist, as well as for information.
While no specific treatment is available for selective deficiency of IgA, it’s important to treat any bacterial infections with antibiotics to prevent them from recurring. If a specialist agrees that your daughter has the disorder, it’s important to know that sometimes this condition will disappear without treatment, and your medical professional is likely to recommend retesting your daughter to see if the deficiency resolves over time.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
Really informative blog.Thanks Again. Really Cool.
Your style is unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this blog.
Good day! I just want to give you a huge thumbs up for the great info you have got here on this post. I am coming back to your blog for more soon.
May I just say what a relief to discover an individual who truly understands what they are talking about on the web. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story. It's surprising you are not more popular because you surely have the gift.
Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes which will make the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!
you need ( cure to Herpes virus ) I was cured___________it’s AWESOME!!,!.....
Email hsv1.herpes (@) gmail……com
Thank YOU for reading!
Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!
An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who was conducting a little research on this. And he actually ordered me dinner due to the fact that I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this matter here on your blog.
There's definately a great deal to find out about this topic. I love all the points you've made.
Itís difficult to find educated people in this particular subject, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
Very good info. Lucky me I found your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved it for later!
Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the site is very good.
Playing klondike solitaire
is something I encourage. This is an excellent game for de-stressing and relaxing.