Juvenile Arthritis Research News

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Juvenile arthritis has several forms, but the most prevalent is juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It affects more than 50,000 children in the U.S. alone. Nearly 300,000 American children under age 18 have some form of arthritis or other rheumatic conditions. It is caused by inflammation of the joints, causing swelling, stiffness, loss of motion, and pain. It can affect children’s ability to fight normal diseases and can cause complications affecting their eyes and growth. Here is some recent research news regarding the cause and treatment of JIA.

Uveitis FlaresA study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology indicates that adding Humira (adalimumab) to Methotrexate can help avoid uveitis flares in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA is the primary cause of uveitis—inflammation that causes swelling and destruction of eye tissue, primarily in the uvea—in children and young adults. In the study, adding Humira to methotrexate significantly delayed the time to treatment failure compared with placebo. The results support additional studies.

Pain InterferenceA study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology indicates that many patients with JIA experience pain interference. This greater pain intensity and disability leads to greater pain anxiety and less leisure-time activity, having a broad impact on the individual’s life. The authors concluded that a broader conceptualization of pain in JIA patients is warranted.

Celiac Disease—Despite previous reports to the contrary, one new study of JIA patients found none having celiac disease. Having other autoimmune diseases increases the likelihood of developing celiac disease. Genetic variations in 4q27 - a particular region in chromosome 4 - are associated with higher risk of developing celiac disease, JIA, and rheumatoid arthritis. None of the participants in the study, who all had JIA, tested positive for the antibodies characteristic of celiac disease. The researchers called for further, larger studies to determine how, and if, the two diseases are related.

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Stephanie Jones