Arthritis in Children — it’s a thing

I was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 3. My mother travelled all over Australia searching for a diagnosis, a reason as to why I went from being a happy toddler to refusing to walk with an ankle the size of half a tennis ball. Mum was relieved when she finally found a doctor who was willing to listen to her concerns, and who seemed to know what to do to ease the pain, while at the same time she was shocked to learn that kids get arthritis too.

Arthritis affects approximately 1 in every 1000 children before the age of 16. (Although a study conducted in Western Australia suggested this number may be as high as 1 in every 250 children). Juvenile Arthritis has been known by many different terms over the years however it is now widely accepted as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (Idiopathic meaning it is a primary disease developing independently and the medical community do not yet know the cause).

There are 7 different types or subgroups of JIA depending on a number of factors such as how many joints are involved, whether there have been high fevers at onset, family history of psoriasis and other conditions and the results of blood tests for genetic markers such as rheumatoid factor and HLA-B27.

Below are some interesting facts about JIA:

  • JIA affects more girls than boys
  • There are over 300,000 children in the US, 12,000 in the the UK and at least 5,000 in Australia
  • Serious complications such as inflammation of the eye can cause blindness if left untreated
  • The introduction of new medications in recent years, such as biologics, has greatly improved the outcomes for many kids with JIA. These medications can, in many cases, prevent kids from deteriorating to the point of needing a wheelchair or joint replacement surgery, something which was common in the past.
  • There are not enough paediatric rheumatologists available to manage and treat kids with JIA. According to 11 states in the US do not have a board-certified paediatric rheumatologist and 7 states only have 1.

To find out what it is like to live with Juvenile Arthritis please listen to Bayly’s story

The future for children with arthritis is much brighter now with new medications that weren’t available 20 years ago.

For more information on Juvenile Arthritis please visit

Thank you for reading ☺

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