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Press Release Archive (2014)

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Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

Most people don't know that kids get arthritis, too. A child's immune system is not fully formed until about age 18; so an "autoimmune" form of arthritis is especially virulent in children, compromising their ability fight normal diseases and leaving them open to complications that may affect their eyes, bone growth, etc.

Juvenile arthritis (JA) refers to any form of arthritis or an arthritis-related condition that develops in children or teenagers who are less than 18 years of age.

Impact of Juvenile Arthritis:

  • Approximately 294,000 children under the age of 18 are affected by pediatric arthritis and rheumatologic conditions.
  • State prevalence numbers for pediatric arthritis and rheumatologic conditions are available in the "Prevalence of and Annual Ambulatory Health Care Visits for Pediatric Arthritis and Other Rheumatologic Conditions in the US in 2001-2004".
  • Ambulatory care visits for pediatric arthritis and rheumatologic conditions averaged 827,000 annually.
  • Juvenile arthritis is one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States.
  • Arthritis and related conditions, such as juvenile arthritis, cost the U.S. economy nearly $128 billion per year in medical care and indirect expenses, including lost wages and productivity.

Common Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis:

  • Pain, swelling, tenderness and stiffness of joints, causing limited range of motion
  • Joint contracture, which results from holding a painful joint in a flexed position for an extended period
  • Damage to joint cartilage and bone leading to joint deformity and impaired use of the joint
  • Altered growth of bone and joints leading to short stature

Types of Juvenile Arthritis:

Polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) - or juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) - typically affects five or more joints and:

  • affects girls more frequently than boys
  • most commonly affects knees, wrists and ankles
  • can affect weight-bearing and other joints, including hips, neck, shoulders and jaw
  • often affects the same joint on both sides of the body

Pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) - or juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) - affects typically four or fewer joints and:

  • usually affects the large joints: knees, ankles or wrists
  • often affects a joint on one side of the body only, particularly the knee
  • may cause eye inflammation (uveitis) which is seen most frequently in young girls with positive anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA)

Systemic onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) - or juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) - can:

  • affect boys and girls equallycause high, spiking fevers of 103 degrees or higher, lasting for weeks or even months
  • cause a rash consisting of pale, red spots on the child's chest, thighs and sometimes other parts of the body
  • cause arthritis in the small joints of the hands, wrists, knees and ankles

Learn more at the Arthritis Foundation website.

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