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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multisystem, chronic but often episodic, autoimmune disease that is characterized by the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA). Because SLE can present with a number of signs and symptoms, the diagnosis often is considered in children who have prolonged unexplained complaints.

Approximately 20% of all patients who have SLE are diagnosed in childhood. The onset of SLE is rare in those younger than 5 years of age; most pediatric patients are diagnosed in adolescence. SLE is considered a predominantly female disease, and although most affected patients are female, the ratio changes with age. Prior to puberty, the female-to-male ratio is 3:1; after puberty, the ratio becomes 9:1. Aside from this sex difference, there also are marked racial differences observed in SLE. Native Americans are most susceptible to developing SLE, followed by African-Americans, Hispanics, Chinese, and Filipinos....

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