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Primary Immune Deficiency Disorder in Children


A primary immune deficiency disorder (PIDD) means your child's immune system did not develop correctly, or does not work correctly. The immune system protects the body from infection and some kinds of cancer. PIDD increases your child's risk for infections and certain cancers. Infections your child had before, such as tuberculosis, may become active again. Your child's immune system may also attack healthy cells instead of harmful cells. Most PIDDs in children are genetic disorders. This means it was passed to your child by one or both parents. A PIDD may be diagnosed shortly after your baby's birth, or it may not show for months or years.


Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has sudden or severe trouble breathing.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


  • Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat a bacterial infection.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your child's PIDD:

The following are ways you can help prevent infection and protect or build your child's immune system:

  • Ask about vaccines your child may need. Vaccines help protect your child from infections. Infections can be serious in children who have a PIDD. Your child may not be able to get vaccines that contain live viruses, such as the oral polio vaccine. Your child's immune system may not be able to prevent an infection from the live vaccine.
  • Have your child wash his or her hands often. This can help prevent infection and the spread of germs. Anyone who cares for your child should also wash often. Use soap and warm water. Everyone should wash their hands after changing a child's diaper and before preparing or eating food. Use an alcohol-based hand gel if soap and water are not available. Have your child bring gel when he or she leaves the house. Teach your child to dry his or her hands before using hand rub. Rub hands together until all of the liquid has dried.
  • Keep your child away from crowds during flu season. Flu season is from late October to the middle of March. Do not let anyone who is sick care for your child. Keep your child 3 to 6 feet away from people when he or she is in public. Ask friends and family to visit only when they are not sick.
  • Offer your child a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods help your child's immune system work better. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, fish, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and cooked beans. If your baby drinks formula, mix it with distilled water only to help prevent infection.
  • Encourage your child to exercise. Exercise can help keep your child's lungs clear. This will help decrease his or her risk for a lung infection. Do not let your child exercise outdoors in cold weather or in an area that has pollution.
  • Protect your child's mouth from germs that lead to infection. Have your child brush and floss his or her teeth at least 2 times per day. Help your young child brush and floss. Ask your child's dentist what kind of toothpaste your child should use. You can rub a wet cloth over your baby's teeth to clean them. Take your child to the dentist at least every 6 months.
  • Talk to your adolescent about not smoking. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your adolescent's healthcare provider for information if he or she currently smokes and needs help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before your adolescent uses these products.
  • Ask if your child needs to be screened for cancer. A PIDD can increase your child's risk for certain cancers. Regular screening can help find cancer early. Screening might not begin until your child is an adult.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Primary Immune Deficiency Disorder in Children (Discharge Care)

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