IgA deficiency: What is it?

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IgA deficiency: What is it?

Question

My 5-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with IgA deficiency. What can you tell me about this disorder?

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Answer

One of the most common immune deficiency disorders, IgA deficiency is defined as low blood serum levels of a special type of protein called immunoglobulin A (IgA). This deficiency impairs function of the immune system.

The cause of IgA deficiency isn't clear. But in some cases, it may be inherited. IgA deficiency occurs most often in people of European descent. IgA deficiency is also associated with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

People with IgA deficiency are at increased risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. They may also have a larger array of symptoms with these infections, longer lasting illnesses and more complications than may people without IgA deficiency.

A doctor may confirm a diagnosis of IgA deficiency by blood tests. There's no specific treatment for this disorder. Doctors recommend that people with IgA deficiency get annual flu shots and seek prompt medical care for all infections. If you have a personal or family history of this disorder, you may want to consider genetic counseling.

Last Updated: 05/19/2006
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