Rare Immune Disorder Disproportionately Affects American Indians

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ImmuneDisorder Disproportionately

The AP/Farmington DailyTimes onSunday examined SCID, an immune deficiency disorder prevalent among AmericanIndian 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 Navajosand Apaches are thought to have the most severe form of the condition, wherethey lack a certain gene. Without that gene, children with SCID are unable torepair DNA or develop T and B cells, which fight disease.


There is no standard test to detect SCID among children. Children with thecondition usually will be diagnosed after having a persistent infection,generally within three months of birth. Jennifer Puck, who studies inheritedimmune deficiency disorders at the University ofCalifornia-San Francisco, said she is working on a test that would determine whether a child isimmune 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 ofthe condition (Fonseca, AP/Farmington Daily Times, 12/16).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.