Rare Immune Disorder Disproportionately Affects American Indians

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Science & Medicine

The AP/Farmington Daily Times on Sunday examined SCID, an immune deficiency disorder prevalent among American Indian children. One in every 2,500 Navajo Indian children has the condition, compared with one in 100,000 children in the general population.

Researchers have isolated about 12 genes that are linked to SCID, and Navajos and Apaches are thought to have the most severe form of the condition, where they lack a certain gene. Without that gene, children with SCID are unable to repair DNA or develop T and B cells, which fight disease.

There is no standard test to detect SCID among children. Children with the condition usually will be diagnosed after having a persistent infection, generally within three months of birth. Jennifer Puck, who studies inherited immune deficiency disorders at the University of California-San Francisco, said she is working on a test that would determine whether a child is immune deficient.

Mortan Cowan, a physician who has worked with SCID patients for more than 20 years, said efforts are under way on reservations to educate doctors about signs of the condition (Fonseca, AP/Farmington Daily Times, 12/16).

linkback url: http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=49531

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