Background: Respiratory conditions are the leading cause of hospitalization and death in children with Trisomy 21 (T21). Diffuse alveolar hemorrhage (DAH) occurs at higher frequency in children with T21; yet, it is not widely studied nor is there a standardized approach to diagnosis or management. The objective of this study was to identify children with T21 and DAH in order to understand contributing factors and identify opportunities to improve outcomes. We identified 5 children with T21 at a single institution with histology-proven DAH over 10 years and discuss their presentation, evaluation, management, and outcomes. We also reviewed the cases in the literature.
Case Presentation: Patient 1 died at age seven due to secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. DAH was seen on autopsy. Patient 2 was a three-year-old with systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis diagnosed with DAH after presenting for hypoxia. Patient 3 was diagnosed with DAH at age nine after presenting with recurrent suspected pneumonia and aspiration. Patient 4 was diagnosed with DAH at age eight after presenting with pallor and fatigue. She had additional ICU admissions for DAH with infections. Patient 5 developed hemoptysis at age three and had recurrent DAH for ten years. Four patients responded positively to immune-modulation such as intravenous immunoglobulin, glucocorticoids, and rituximab. Of the 19 patients identified in the literature, only one was from the United States. The majority had anemia, respiratory distress, autoantibodies, and recurrences. A minority had hemoptysis. Idiopathic pulmonary hemosiderosis was the most common diagnosis. Almost all received glucocorticoids with or without additional immunosuppression. The majority of our patients and those in the literature had positive auto-antibodies such as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies and anti-nuclear antigen antibodies. Diagnostic clues included respiratory distress, hypoxia, anemia, recurrent pneumonia, and/or ground glass opacities on imaging. We identified four contributors to DAH: structural lung abnormalities, pulmonary arterial hypertension, infection/aspiration, and autoimmune disease/immune dysregulation.
Conclusion: These cases demonstrate the need for an increased index of suspicion for DAH in children with T21, enrich the understanding of risk factors, and highlight the favorable response to immunosuppressive therapies in this vulnerable population.