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Arthritis in Iowa: 2,800 Kids Among Those Afflicted

There are 2,800 kids in Iowa who have juvenile arthritis, the term used for a variety of childhood autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Credit: SAM Nasim/Flickr.
There are 2,800 kids in Iowa who have juvenile arthritis, the term used for a variety of childhood autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Credit: SAM Nasim/Flickr.
July 13, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa – July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, and while arthritis is most often associated with older adults, children can also be affected.

Corrine Grace, community engagement director in Iowa and Nebraska for the Arthritis Foundation, says early diagnosis and treatment are key, and one thing to watch for is what one may first believe to be so-called growing pains.

"We now know that symptoms of joint pain, swelling, stiffness, fatigue are early signals of an inflammatory rheumatic disease and that requires medical treatment," she points out.

Juvenile arthritis is not a disease itself, but an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in people under age 18.

Nationwide, about 300,000 children are affected, including 2,800 in Iowa.

No known cause has been pinpointed for most forms of juvenile arthritis, but Grace says research points toward a genetic predisposition.

"There has been a lot of work done in terms of genetics, trying to determine what are those genetic markers that might be causing juvenile arthritis, but there's also research that suggests that environmental factors can play a role," she states.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA