Lockjaw See tetanus

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low birth weight See birth rate, low.

low blood sugar See hypoglycemia.

lower respiratory tract infections See respiratory TRACT INFECTIONS.

lupus An autoimmune disease in which a person's immune system mistakenly works against the body's own tissues. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common type of lupus, typically develops during the 20s, 30s, or 40s— mbut about 15 percent to 17 percent of people with systemic lupus first notice symptoms during childhood or adolescence. Most of these are children 10 years or older; it is extremely rare in children under five. Experts estimate that between 5,000 and 10,000 children in the United States have SLE.

Children diagnosed with lupus often have been ill for a longer period and are more likely to have significant internal organ involvement than most adults with lupus. This may be because many children are not recognized as having early lupus until the disease has become worse. As a result children with lupus often are required to begin aggressive therapy soon after diagnosis. While lupus can be a severe and life-threatening disease, many children with lupus will do very well.

A healthy immune system produces proteins called antibodies that normally protect the body against bacterial and viral infections. In people with lupus, the immune system is unable to distinguish between foreign substances and the body's own cells, and it makes antibodies that target the patient's cells, sparking inflammation and pain. Systemic lupus, which can be mild or life-threatening, can affect many organs in the body.

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