CDC Report: 200,000 kids in US have juvenile arthritis

That's more than the number of kids who have type one diabetes.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 5:44 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (Gray Iowa Capitol Bureau) - More than 200,000 children in the U.S. have arthritis — more than the number of kids with Type 1 diabetes — according to a new report from the CDC. It becomes more prevalent with age and is highest among teens aged 12-17.

When you think of arthritis, you probably think of the kind that affects older people. Dr. Meghan Ryan, a pediatric rheumatologist, at Blank Children’s Hospital says, “That’s more of a wear and tear type that affects the cartilage. The type that affects kids is different. It’s more consistent with the rheumatoid arthritis where it’s the immune system that’s misbehaving and causing inflammation in the joints.”

The main symptoms are muscle swelling and stiffness. Ryan says symptoms improve throughout the day when toddlers move around, which can be confusing for parents. “In the mornings, they might look like they’re limping. They get going for the day, they look like they’re just fine, so it’s like ‘oh that was nothing’. They go for their nap, they wake up and ‘oh they’re doing it again’ but it fades,” Ryan said.

Ryan says juvenile arthritis is treatable. “This is a very treatable condition. It is one that’s chronic, so it’s something that is likely to stay with the individual for a long time but everybody has a little different outcome at the end of the day,” Ryan said.

Ryan says many kids may be going undiagnosed. Nationwide, there are not very many pediatric rheumatologists. Ryan herself is only one of four in the entire state of Iowa.