Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology

Polly Ferguson, MD
Division Director

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is home to Iowa’s only pediatric rheumatologists—doctors with the training, expertise, and experience to treat children and young adults with rheumatic diseases.
Rheumatic diseases refer to a wide range of disorders that, in general, affect the joints, muscles, spine, and skin. These diseases may present with pain, swelling, morning stiffness, fever, or rash.  Pediatric rheumatic diseases result from uncontrolled inflammation during which the body’s immune system attacks or hurts its own healthy cells and tissues. Examples include:

  • Autoinflammatory syndromes including periodic fever syndromes and chronic non-infectious osteomyelitis (CRMO)
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Localized and systemic scleroderma (hard skin and other tissues)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly known as lupus or SLE)
  • Uveitis
  • Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels)

Our doctors, nurses, and medical staff understand that pediatric rheumatic diseases are chronic, complex disorders that can severely affect a child’s growth, development, and quality of life. Early and proper diagnosis is key to treating symptoms and managing the disease. 
Trust—from our young patients and their parents—is important. We work with our families’ referring health care providers, and we collaborate with other UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital specialists, therapists, and other staff as needed—drawing on the research, technology, and expertise available at one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals. We also strive to make sure that families are comfortable, informed, and confident about the care their child receives. Research into the cause of these diseases is essential and our team of physicians is recognized nationally and internationally for their research expertise in autoinflammatory disorders, Sjögren syndrome, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, localized scleroderma and uveitis.

Our Team: