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Primary Immunodeficiency Program
At Children's our team of immunodeficiency specialists diagnose and treat complex primary immune deficiencies (non-AIDS) in children and adults. Our Primary Immunodeficiency Program (PIP) is recognized as a Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic Center for Primary Immunodeficiencies - only one of 21 in the world.
The main goal of Children's PIP is the accurate and early detection of disorders, which is critical in cases of serious immunodeficiency. We then provide you and your family all the latest treatment options.
Our Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic Center is one of many across the country in the nation's top hospitals and medical care facilities. These centers are dedicated to research and treatments to improve the lives of those who suffer from primary immunodeficiency and their families.
Read more about our Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic Center.
Your family also benefits from our ongoing partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin to research and treat immune deficiencies. In our Clinical Immunodiagnostic and Research Laboratory (CIRL), our experts conduct research to persistently improve our program and provide the best testing and care for people all over the world.
10 warning signs of primary immunodeficiency
- Four or more new ear infections in one year
- Two or more serious sinus infections in one year
- Two or more months on antibiotics with little effect
- Two or more pneumonias in one year
- Failure for an infant to gain weight or grow normally
- Recurring deep skin or organ abscesses
- Persistent thrush in mouth or fungal infection on skin
- Need for I.V. antibiotics to clear infections
- Two or more deep-seated infections including septicemia
- A family history of P.I.
Immune disorders we treat
Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
Children born with SCID have little or no immune system and are, therefore, susceptible to constant recurrent infections. Symptoms usually appear within the first year of life.
With SCID, your child will experience numerous serious and/or life-threatening infections that are not easily treated and don’t respond to medications, including:
- Pneumonia - infection of the lungs
- Meningitis - infection of the brain
- Sepsis - infection in the bloodstream
Other, less serious infections may include:
- Chronic skin infections/abscesses
- Yeast infections in the mouth and diaper area
- Infection of the liver
Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)
Children or adults with CVID have difficulty fighting disease, which can lead to recurring illnesses. The disease may become evident anytime between infancy and adulthood.
Symptoms vary, and the most common are:
- Recurrent infections of the ears, sinuses, and lungs
- Inflammation in the joints of the knees, ankles, elbows, or wrists
- Stomach and bowel disorders
- Increased risk of developing some cancers
A disease that affects the chromosomes, DiGeorge may cause physical abnormalities in your child’s heart, kidneys, or brain. It can also cause multiple health problems such as feeding issues. Children with DiGeorge may have the following facial features:
- Small ears with squared upper ear
- Hooded eyelids
- Cleft lip and/or palate
- Asymmetric crying face
- Small mouth, chin, and side areas of the nose tip
X-lined agammaglobulinemi/Bruton's agammaglobulinemia
This disease only affects males and can lead to infections in multiple areas, such as the skin, lungs, eyes, bone, spine, bloodstream and gastrointestinal tract. Other symptoms may include:
- Growth failure/failure to thrive or grow
- Absence of tonsils and adenoids
- Joint disease primarily in the knees, similar to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (red blood cell breakdown)
- Glomerulonephritis (kidney inflammation)
- Neutropenia (decreased neutrophils in the blood)
- Dermatomyositis (skin and muscle inflammation)
Hemophagocytic Lymphoshistiocytosis (HLH)
HLH is an immunodeficiency that primarily affects your child’s blood. Common symptoms include fever, jaundice and rash, as well as enlargement of the lymph nodes and liver.
Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS)
ALPS is an inherited disorder that can affect both children and adults. It causes an unusually high number of blood cells to collect in the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, which causes swelling.
Specific antibody deficiencies
Antibodies help us fight diseases, and our bodies make special antibodies for each disease. If you or your child's body can't make antibodies for a certain illness or illnesses, he or she may need treatment. People who have this disorder often have trouble fighting off chest and sinus infections in particular.
DNA repair defects
This is a condition where the body has a hard time healing itself. DNA repair slows down naturally as we age, and defects can cause this process to increase in certain organs. It’s often seen in children who suffer from diseases that cause accelerated aging.
Most children who have this disorder are boys, as it is linked to a recessive gene on the x-chromosome. Common symptoms include eczema, bloody stool, and low-platelet count (which can cause excessive bruising or bleeding).
Eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic inflammatory disease of the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It is also called allergic esophagitis, and symptoms include difficulty swallowing, heartburn, and food becoming lodged in the throat.
Periodic fever syndromes/autoinflammatory disorders
This category includes a number of different syndromes that cause your child to experience occasional fevers and swelling, often causing joint pain and abdominal pain. They’re usually genetic in nature, resulting from an inherited gene mutation. Treatment depends on the specific syndrome.
Request an appointment
To make an appointment with the Primary Immunodeficiency Program, call us at: