Kids with arthritis often disabled

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Although many children with so-called juvenile idiopathic arthritis have a low level of disease, about one in five have moderate to severe disability, Italian researchers report.

“These findings,” Dr. Angelo Ravelli told Reuters Health, “underscore the critical need for treatments and treatment strategies that have the ability to better control disease activity.”

Ravelli, at Istituto G. Gaslini in Genoa, and his colleagues studied a sample of children who had had juvenile arthritis for at least five years.

Most of the 310 children in the study had relatively mild disease and little if any physical impairment, the investigators report in the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

However, 19 percent of them were classified as having moderate to severe disability.

The investigators found that although most patients had a satisfactory quality of life, it was severely impaired for 10 percent of the children.

Ravelli’s team points out that “for the most part, the study findings reflect the disease outcomes achieved with conventional treatment,” because most children were diagnosed before the availability of new biological agents that can alter the course of arthritis.

SOURCE: Arthritis & Rheumatism, November 15, 2008.

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