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Child's Play - Lupus Now(R) Magazine Explores Activities for Children With a Chronic Condition
Date:3/5/2008

WASHINGTON, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Learning that your child has a chronic illness is never easy, especially when it's the unpredictable and potentially fatal autoimmune disease lupus. When it comes to physical activities for children, most parents prefer to err on the side of caution -- but medical experts say that may be a mistake. The spring issue of the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) national magazine, Lupus Now(R), reports that once a child's lupus has been stabilized and he or she is feeling better, the child should be given every opportunity to participate in activities that he or she enjoys.

"In my 30 years in this business, I've learned that a child's life will be more damaged by being told he can't do things [because of illness] than because he has the illness," says Thomas J.A. Lehman, M.D., chief of the division of pediatric rheumatology at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and professor of clinical pediatrics at Cornell University in New York.

"When it comes to sports and activities, the key emphasis is this: When possible, let the child decide," says Lehman. "They shouldn't be held back because you tell them not to try. After all, physical activity is good for everyone. Some may realize they can't do one thing or another, but then go out and surprise even me by finding out what they can do."

"Regular activity does lots of good for any child, including those with lupus," says Kathleen O'Neil, M.D., a pediatric rheumatologist and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. "In particular, aerobic conditioning helps keep the heart and blood vessels in good shape. Weight bearing exercise helps strengthen bones and exercise helps prevent obesity, high blood lipid levels, diabetes, and all those inactivity-related problems that are epidemic in today's America."

The spring issue of Lupus Now provides parents practical tips on how to help their child adjust to living with a chronic condition like lupus.

-- Open a dialogue with your child. They need to know everything about their condition, including required medications and their importance.

-- Put the child in control as much as possible, but be certain to supervise. Children may want to skip medications when they feel well.

-- Keep lines of communication open with coaches, teachers, and other parents so they can know when problems arise.

-- Children should wear sunscreen and sun protective clothing to protect against UV light exposure (a trigger for lupus disease activity).

-- Watch out for your child and have alternatives if activities become too much, such as limiting the play to a few hours, several times each week, rather than all day, every day. However, the point of activities is for the child to have fun.

Published three times per year for people with lupus, their families, and health professionals, Lupus Now includes the latest information on new treatments, clinical updates, lifestyle and wellness features, personal stories and more. For subscription information, contact your local LFA chapter, go online to http://www.lupusnow.org, or call 866-4-THE-LFA.

The Lupus Foundation of America is the foremost national nonprofit voluntary health organization dedicated to finding the causes of and cure for lupus, and to providing support, services and hope to all people affected by lupus through programs of research, education, and advocacy.


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SOURCE Lupus Foundation of America
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