Objectives: The objective of this study was to characterize the clinical picture of Behçet's disease (BD) in children.
Study design: A questionnaire was completed by five BD specialists from Turkey, France, Iran, or Saudi Arabia. We first reviewed 86 cases retrospectively with a specially designed computerized database and then selected 65 who met the criteria of the International Study Group for BD, which include buccal aphthosis plus at least two among recurrent genital aphthosis, eye lesions, skin lesions, and positive pathergy test. The remaining 21 patients, who had features suggestive of BD but did not fulfill the international criteria, were analyzed separately and then compared with the other 65 patients.
Results: BD affected boys and girls equally. The clinical picture frequently included mucocutaneous lesions. Uveitis was less frequent than in adults but carried a poor prognosis, especially in male patients (p < 0.001). The mortality rate (3%) was related to large vessel involvement. Familial cases were particularly frequent (15%). Erythema nodosum and skin hypersensitivity were common in Turkish patients, whereas neuro-BD was more frequent in French and Saudi Arabian patients. Patients who did not fulfill the international criteria had significantly less genital aphthosis (p < 0.01), less skin lesions or hypersensitivity (p < 0.01), and less uveitis (p < 0.01).
Conclusion: BD in children is similar to BD in adults. The high frequency of familial cases calls for further investigation of the immunogenetic factors that may favor early expression of the disease.