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Immunology

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Immunology is the study of the immune system, which is the body's natural defense against infection. Our Immunology team diagnoses and treats both children and adults who have primary immune deficiency disorders (PIDDs). There are more than 140 of these complex conditions. People with PIDDs are born with immune systems that are not working properly or that are missing needed parts. This makes them more open to serious infection and illness.

Seattle Children’s is one of the few places in the world where doctors are both carrying out research and providing treatment for primary immune deficiency disorders. Our experts in immunology are known around the world for their research into new ways to diagnose, treat and cure PIDDs. This allows us to use what we learn to provide the most advanced care for people with PIDDs. We work closely with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to coordinate care for our patients who need bone marrow transplants. Our laboratory offers the newest and most thorough testing to identify these disorders and their causes.

Conditions We Treat


Children’s Immunology team diagnoses and treats many primary immune deficiency disorders, including:


Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)

SCID is a group of disorders that causes serious problems in the immune system. SCID usually shows up when your child is a baby and affects the blood cells that fight infection, T- and B-lymphocytes. SCID reduces the numbers of these cells or causes them to not work right. This makes it hard for people with SCID to fight off viruses, bacteria and other agents that cause infections. Read more.

Agammaglobulinemia

Agammaglobulinemia is a disorder that blocks the development of a type of blood cell called B-lymphocytes. Mature B-lymphocytes release substances called antibodies that fight infection. People with agammaglobulinemia don't have very many antibodies in their blood to fight off infections.

Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)

CVID is a group of disorders that can be passed on from parent to child (genetic). People with CVID have low levels of infection-fighting antibodies in their blood. This makes it hard for them to fight off infections and illness. CVID can occur in children, but it is most common in young adults.

Hyper-IgM syndrome (HIGM)

Hyper-IgM syndrome is a disorder that can be passed on from parent to child (genetic). People with HIGM do not have enough of the most efficient infection-fighting antibodies. They usually have very low levels of both immunoglobulin A (IgA) and immunoglobulin G (IgG). This makes it hard for them to fight off infections and illness.

Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD)

CGD is a disorder that can be passed on from parent to child (genetic). It causes some infection-fighting white blood cells to be unable to break down bacteria. This makes it hard for people with CGD to get rid of certain types of bacteria and fungi, making them open to getting skin and lung infections.

Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS)

Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome is a disorder that can be passed on from parent to child (genetic). People with WAS have very low numbers of the blood cells (platelets) that cause blood to stick together (clot). This can cause problems with bleeding. Because WAS also affects the immune cells that fight infections, people with the disorder can get infections easily.

Immune Dysregulation Polyendocrinopathy Enteropathy X-linked (IPEX)

IPEX is a disorder that can be passed on from parent to child (genetic). People with IPEX lack a type of white blood cell that regulates the immune system, the body's natural defense against disease. Without the regulating white blood cell, the immune system can attack parts of the body itself. This can cause diarrhea, rash and sometimes diabetes.

Hyper-IgE Syndrome (HIES)

Hyper-IgE syndrome is a disorder that can be passed on from parent to child (genetic). It causes cells in the immune system to react abnormally to infections. This makes it hard for people with HIES to fight off infections, especially in the lungs and skin.

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