Epidemiology

Among the conditions seen in the pediatric rheumatology clinic population, SLE is relatively rare, and accurate data of incidence and prevalence are minimal. However, at least 15% of patients with SLE have the onset of their disease in childhood or adolescence. Several studies, from Canada, Finland, and Japan have estimated the annual incidence rate for juvenile onset SLE as between 0.36 and 0.9 per 100,000 children (1-3). There is a peak of incidence in the pubertal and immediate postpubertal period. SLE is a disease seen predominantly in women in the adult onset cases, with a female to male ratio of 9:1 in nearly all case series (6). The female to male ratio is generally lower in the pediatric onset cases, with an overall female to male ratio of 4-5:1 reported from most case series (4,5). The average age at diagnosis of juvenile SLE ranges from 11 to 14 years (6) and therefore this disease is primarily seen in adolescents.

It is well-known that SLE is more common among Hispanic and non-Caucasian ethnic groups, and this is true in juvenile onset SLE as well (7). Children and adolescents who are Afro-Caribbean, African American, Asian, or Native American are overrepresented in juvenile SLE (8,9).

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