Experts at the Division of Allergy/Immunology Diagnose and Treat Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)
Our leading team of board-certified pediatric specialists at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is expert in diagnosing and treating severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) disorder. SCID is a rare and very serious disorder that involves T and B lymphocytes, or T and B cells, the white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infections. Without proper treatment, even common infections can be life-threatening.
Babies born with SCID have little or no immune system and are at high risk for recurrent infections, including:
- Blood infections
- Recurrent ear infections (otitis media)
- Persistent thrush
Correcting Baby’s Immune System
After a proper diagnosis of SCID, highly trained immunologists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital may recommend correcting or replacing the baby’s immune system by transplanting blood-forming cells from a healthy donor, usually from a sibling. After the bone marrow or stem cell transplant, the new cells produce functioning lymphocytes that correct the SCID defect in the infant.
Coping with SCID
Learning that a newborn has a serious medical problem such as SCID is very distressing for parents. However, getting an early diagnosis, made possible by newborn screening and confirmatory testing at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, gives the baby the best chance for successful treatment of SCID with early intervention.
If a baby has been diagnosed with SCID, parents must take precautionary measures to keep the baby safe from infections, including:
- Avoiding public places, particularly around children who are not members of the immediate family
- Following strict hand washing or hand sanitizing rules before touching the baby
- Keeping the baby isolated from anyone with an infection or cold
Vaccines, Immunizations and SCID
It is important that a baby with a poorly functioning immune system not be given certain vaccines, including:
- Live nasal influenza vaccine (Flu Mist)
- Live poliovirus
- Live oral rotavirus vaccine
In addition, family members should not receive any live vaccines.
Preventive antibiotics prescribed by our board-certified physicians at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital may be needed to ward off infections the baby’s immune system cannot handle. Most of these antibiotics are given by mouth.
Babies with SCID may be missing an important protective antibody, called immunoglobulin, because their B cells do not make it. Replacement immunoglobulin can be given through the vein or under the skin to give the baby more protection against infections.