Support for Lupus in Children
There is no cure for lupus in children, but treatment and support can help put families at ease. The Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hosptial at NYU Langone, provides education on lupus and resources that can support you and your child throughout treatment.
For children with lupus, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated and trans fats can help reduce inflammation and prevent medication-related side effects, such as bone loss and weight gain. Your doctor can refer you to a registered dietitian, who can offer advice on how to avoid foods that can worsen symptoms and can recommend vitamin D and calcium supplements to prevent bone loss.
Our pediatric physiatrists—rehabilitation medicine specialists—at Rusk Rehabilitation can evaluate children with lupus who have difficulty performing everyday activities because of arthritis, weakness, or other problems.
Children with lupus can benefit from regular physical activity to strengthen muscles, prevent stiffness, and maintain a healthy weight. Regular exercise can also help reduce fatigue, prevent medication-related bone loss, combat depression, and improve a child’s quality of life. Our physical therapists can recommend an exercise program to address your child’s main symptoms.
Our occupational therapists can offer strategies and devices to help children with joint pain and fatigue to perform everyday activities on their own.
In some instances, lupus can cause inflammation in the brain, which can lead to seizures, depression, and, more rarely, a stroke. NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation offers specialized, multidisciplinary treatment and support in the hospital and at home to help your child recover from these complications and prevent them from returning.
Avoiding the Sun
Sun exposure can trigger certain symptoms of lupus, such as rash and even kidney problems. Our specialists recommend that children use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB ultraviolet sunlight with an SPF of at least 50. Wearing long sleeves and hats while outdoors can also help to prevent flare-ups.
Living with a chronic illness can take an emotional toll, especially during adolescence. Children who feel unwell may not want to go to school and may not be interested in social activities. Adolescents may have difficulty adhering to their treatment plans.
Our psychologists and social workers offer counseling and advice about returning to school after being sick for a period of time. They can also provide access to support groups with other children coping with the same issues.