Severe immunodeficiencies in many children remain undiagnosed with repeated symptoms, warn experts
• Aster Hospitals Dubai hosts international conference on bone marrow transplantation
• With charity funds, Centre of Excellence at Aster Hospital Bangalore, India takes initiative to ensure every needy child with immunodeficiency receives bone marrow transplant.
DUBAI – December 5, 2019: Scores of children remain undiagnosed and suffer for years with primary immune deficiency disorders. There is an urgent need to increase awareness amongst doctors and public about these diseases, say experts. “Unfortunately, many physicians and pediatricians are not well versed with these diseases and this may result in undue delay in the diagnosis.”
Discussing about the “New strategies in the treatment of children affected by onco-haemopathies and severe primary immunodeficiencies”, the experts congregated in Dubai for an international conference highlighted the magnitude of the problem citing research studies that show one in 1,200 children in the world suffer from an immune deficiency. The UAE, with a population of 9.7 million, must have around 4,000 children with immune deficiency, the experts said.
The panel of experts were participating in the “Bone marrow transplantation” conference organized by Aster Hospitals Dubai, a world-class facility under Aster DM Healthcare, a leading healthcare provider in the Middle East and India. The Continuing Medical Education program saw the participation of medical professionals from within the local and International network of Aster.
Dr Fulvio Porta, Head of Paediatric Oncohaematology and BMT Unit, Brescia Children's Hospital in Italy, and Visiting Faculty at Aster CMI Hospital Bangalore, India, said that the immune deficiency disorder is a genetic disease, and consanguinity (marriages within close relatives) is the major risk factor for these diseases. The children with primary immune deficiency disorders are prone to recurrent infections due to a defect in the immune system.”
He asks, “Have you ever wondered why should a child fall repeatedly ill? If there are families with children, who have been unwell for years or fall sick very often and being admitted in hospitals more than twice in a year, or even not growing well. It means that these children are with problems in the immune system. These children get hospitalized on several occasions and are being treated with a variety of antibiotics. These families do not find a proper answer to their ongoing problems, despite consultations from several doctors. Majority of such children suffer from a dreaded group of diseases called the primary immune deficiency diseases.”
Commenting on the conference, Dr Sherbaz Bichu, CEO of Aster Hospitals UAE, said, “One of our constant efforts at Aster is to deliver quality outcomes for patients, by enhancing the skills of our doctors and experts by introducing them to the latest scientific development in a particular therapeutic area. With this conference on bone marrow transplantation, we assure our patients receive expertise of well-informed doctors and healthcare practitioners, who will deliver the best practices for their care, well-being and better quality of life.”
Speaking at the conference, Dr Sagar Bhattad, Consultant, Pediatric Immunologist and Rheumatologist and Director, FPID Centre of Excellence for Diagnosis & Management of Primary Immune Deficiency Disorders at Aster CMI Hospital Bangalore, said, “The children with this genetic disease frequently suffer from a number of symptoms that include chest infection, ear discharge, and loose motions that take unusually longer days to resolve and may require repeated hospitalizations warranting evaluation by an immunologist. There are also children who are not gaining weight and height as per age norms. This also underlies immune defect as the child fails to achieve his/her potential.”
Dr Chetan Ginigeri, Consultant Pediatrics and Pediatric ICU at Aster CMI Bangalore, warns, “Death of children in the family is an alert. If you come across families who have lost children due to infections, one must advise them to meet an immunologist. Some immune deficiencies are serious conditions and if untreated, such children die at young age.”
He advises parents of children who remain unwell and visit doctors very often or often being hospitalized to contact an Immunologist. “By performing a few blood tests, the doctor would determine if there is any problem in the immune system of the child. These children can be diagnosed to provide them timely treatment to improve their quality of life. Children who have problems in immunity require special care and treatment.”
Dr Stalin Ramprakash, Consultant, Paediatric Haematology Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at Aster CMI Bangalore, said, “For children with more serious defect in immunity, bone marrow transplantation can be offered. If treated in time, these children lead a healthy and normal life. A large number of children with Primary Immune Deficiency are cured by Bone marrow transplant every year.”
Dr CP Raghuram, Consultant, Paediatric Haematology Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at Aster CMI Bangalore, said, “Transplants in children with severe autoimmune diseases and Immune deficiencies are much more complex than transplants for other conditions (thalassemia, leukemia). These children often present with serious infections and internal organ damage, making the treatment more challenging.”
Dr Sagar Bhattad said that every needy child, who requires a bone marrow transplant is being treated at Aster CMI Hospital Bangalore. As the cost of bone marrow transplantation is exuberant and unaffordable for many parents, the Hospital supports children of needy parents by raising funds through ‘Aster Sick-Kid Foundation’ and a number of crowdfunding platforms and charity initiatives of many global corporate organizations. The state-of-the-art Pediatric Immunology and Bone marrow transplant unit provides end-to-end solution to every child with immune deficiency. The BMT team at the Hospital is well versed in handling such cases in the presence of a dedicated Pediatric Immunologist, provided with relevant diagnostic facilities to make the treatment possible.”
Aster CMI Hospital Bangalore has been recognized as the centre of excellence by Foundation for Primary Immune Deficiency (FPID), based in the US for diagnosis and management of immunological disorders. The pediatric immunology department at Aster CMI is one amongst a few centres in India to be recognized by the FPID, which supports education, early diagnosis, genetic counselling, therapy, research, and evaluates facilities with capacities in the diagnosis and treatment of challenging cases.
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