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Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is a relatively common chronic childhood illness. It is estimated to affect up to one quarter of a million children in this country alone. The disease may begin at any age in childhood and for unknown reasons, JRA is more prevalent among girls.

JRA, once believed to be a single disease, is now thought to be several different diseases affecting the joints of children. Since this recognition, several subtypes of JRA have been identified. 40% of children with JRA have multiple joint involvement. This particular group of children can develop significant problems with arthritis in the neck. Another 40% of children with JRA have less than four joints affected by the arthritis. This group of children can develop problems with their eyes. Due to the high incidence of eye involvement in children with JRA, these patients should always be examined by an ophthalmologist. The remaining 20% of children with JRA not only have symptoms of the joints, but also other organs. These children can have fever, a rash or an enlarged liver or spleen.

The overall outlook for children with JRA is good. Over 75% of all children with arthritis will eventually enter a remission. Major goals of therapy include joint inflammation reduction, joint deformity prevention, muscle strength maintenance and joint function preservation.


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