Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) predominantly affects women of childbearing age, but 15-20% of cases are diagnosed during childhood. It is important for physicians to understand the epidemiology and clinical presentation for early detection and diagnosis of this disease in difference races. The aim of this retrospective review was to provide a 20-year experience for initial clinical and laboratory manifestations and outcomes in pediatric-onset SLE (pSLE) in a medical center in Asia. We reviewed medical records between April 1990 and June 2012 of patients with a diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) code 710.0 (SLE), who admitted or received follow-up in the Department of Pediatrics at Chang Chung Memorial Hospital. Patients with a diagnosis of SLE prior to their 18th birthday and followed up at our hospital were eligible for inclusion in this study. Medical records regarding age, gender, date of birth and diagnosis, clinical manifestations at diagnosis, laboratory results, image studies and the classification criteria were reviewed. Patients received regular outpatient department follow-up and laboratory survey every 1-6 months. The study cohort consisted of 189 patients; 164 females (86.87%) and 25 males (13.23%). The overall mean age at pSLE diagnosis was 12.62 ± 2.77 years. The most common clinical symptom was malar rash, followed by arthritis and oral ulcers. There was no significant difference in clinical and laboratory manifestations between females and males. More than half of the patients presented with renal involvement initially. The most common histological finding was Class IV lupus nephritis (LN), especially in males (p = 0.034) and young age. Even with severe LN, the rate of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) was low if adequate treatment was initiated. The 5, 10 and 15-year ESRD-free survival rates were 95.4%, 94.0% and 89.9% in patients with biopsy-proven LN. However, infection was the leading cause of mortality. Therefore, aggressive treatment for major organ involvement is important, but physicians must also be aware of fatal infection. The overall survival rates were 5 years: 93.4% and 10-20 years: 89.6%.
Keywords: Systemic lupus erythematosus; end-stage renal disease; mortality; nephritis; neuropsychiatric SLE; outcome; pediatric.