Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease (SCID)

Duke Children's is one of 44 programs in the U.S. and Canada that treat infants born with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). We have achieved an overall survival rate of 75 percent for these infants using innovative bone marrow stem cell transplant therapies that do not require pre-transplant chemotherapy.

Comprehensive, Advanced Care for SCID

SCID -- often called “bubble boy disease” -- is a rare disease that leaves a child unable to fight off germs. As the most severe primary immunodeficiency disease, it occurs when genetic defects impact how well the body’s immune system works. Babies with SCID may appear healthy at birth but can become very sick from germs that don’t usually cause problems in people with healthy immune systems.

We provide comprehensive care for SCID from childhood through adulthood. Our allergists and immunologists coordinate your child’s care with pediatric specialists throughout Duke, including nutritionists, occupational and physical therapists, and social workers. We have been designated by the Immune Deficiency Foundation as a Center of Excellence.  This designation recognizes us for:

  • providing the highest standard of care
  • using innovation to advance treatments for immune deficiencies
  • bringing groundbreaking clinical trials to our patients

Children with SCID require lifelong monitoring to ensure their immune systems are functioning well. We work with you and your child’s hometown doctor so you can stay close to home. Children typically come to Duke once a year for follow-up care with a specialist. 

Nationally Recognized Expertise in SCID Treatment and Research

Duke immunologists are responsible for saving countless lives. We’ve been involved in research to determine effective ways to diagnose and treat SCID for more than 40 years.

  • Duke has been a leader in the development of screening that diagnoses SCID at birth and starting effective therapy, including bone marrow transplants, very soon after birth. Children with SCID who are diagnosed and receive a transplant early in life can be cured.
  • As part of the Primary Immune Deficiency Treatment Consortium, we’re one of 44 centers studying the diagnosis and treatment of infants and children born with primary immune deficiency diseases with the overall goal to improve treatment of these conditions.
  • Our immunodiagnostics lab provides specialized testing for SCID that is not readily available at most other centers. We also use these tests to monitor your child during treatment.



Our immunodiagnostics lab performs highly advanced testing to diagnose and monitor children born with SCID. We're experts in interpreting these tests and continue to develop and improve our capabilities.

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