Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month: New Jersey Juvenile Arthritis Foundation · New Jersey Pediatric Rheumatologists · Donate
Source: Kids Get Arthritis Too.org
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) begins before age 16 and involves swelling in one or more joints lasting at least six weeks. In recent years, researchers have developed a more sophisticated understanding of the differences between specific types of arthritis. JIA is not a pint-sized replica of the condition that affects adults: it’s believed that only about 10 percent of children have a disease that closely mirrors rheumatoid arthritis in adults. Indeed, there are nine types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
JIA may include a variety of symptoms, such as muscle and soft tissue tightening, bone erosion, joint misalignment and changes in growth patterns. Not all symptoms are shared by all children with the disease. Moreover, the symptoms of JIA can change from day to day.
JIA is only one of many autoimmune diseases. Genetics plays a large role: while some diseases like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia are associated with a single gene, JIA is believed to be associated with a number of genes. To date, more than a dozen genes – out of an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 in the entire human genome – have been identified as strongly associated with JIA specifically.
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