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IgA Deficiency: How to Care for Your Child

IgA deficiency is when the body doesn't make enough IgA. IgA is an antibody. Antibodies are part of the immune system and protect the body from germs and allergies. For most kids, having less IgA doesn't cause any problems. Other parts of the immune system work harder to make up for the smaller amount of IgA. But some kids with IgA deficiency can get lots of infections and have other medical problems.

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  • Give your child any prescribed medicine as directed.

  • Help your child take steps to avoid infections such as:

    • washing hands well and often

    • avoiding close contact with people who are sick

    • getting all recommended vaccines

  • There is a risk that children who have IgA deficiency will have an allergic reaction to a blood transfusion. Talk to your health care provider about whether your child needs a medical alert bracelet with this information.

  • Talk to your health care provider about whether other family members should get tested for IgA deficiency.

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Your child:

  • has a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C) for more than 3 days

  • has a cold or cough that is severe or lasts for more than a week

  • has diarrhea for more than 3 days

  • has joint pain

  • is getting more infections than before

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What causes IgA deficiency? Doctors don't usually know what causes IgA deficiency. In some kids, it can be caused by a type of medicine (for example, seizure medicine). If so, it goes away when a child stops taking the medicine.

IgA deficiency can run in families, so there may be a genetic link.

What medical problems can IgA deficiency cause? Most kids with IgA deficiency do not have any medical problems. If problems do happen, they can include:

  • getting a lot of infections such as colds, sinus infections, ear infections, or pneumonia

  • diarrhea from intestinal infections

  • autoimmune problems (where the immune system attacks itself)  

  • allergies

  • asthma

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