New research from CFRI, BC Children’s Hospital, and paediatric rheumatology centres across Canada shows that modern treatments for juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) are highly effective.

Until very recently, when a child was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, doctors couldn’t give worried families very much concrete information about their child’s prognosis. There were only a handful of large-scale studies on juvenile arthritis outcomes and most of them are now outdated because they included children who were diagnosed before the introduction of new treatments.

A new study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases has changed all of that. Using data from a five-year national study, lead author Dr. Jaime Guzman and colleagues found that the typical course of care for JIA is so effective that within two years of diagnosis more than three out of four children no longer had any swollen joints.

Dr. Guzman is a CFRI scientist, a staff rheumatologist at BC Children’s Hospital, and a Clinical Associate Professor with the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

“Thanks to this collaboration with pediatric rheumatologists across Canada, families newly diagnosed with JIA will now be better prepared to face the challenges that lie ahead,” says Dr. Guzman. “If their child has a mild type of JIA they will be reassured and less worried, and if she or he has a severe type they will better prepared to make the necessary tough choices.”

Unless they suffered from polyarthritis, a severe type of JIA in which more than five joints are affected, patients had a 50 per cent chance of going into remission within five years of diagnosis. Even children with RF-Positive polyarthritis, the most difficult type of JIA to treat, had a 90 per cent chance of experiencing at least one period where their disease was inactive within five years.

The paper uses data from the Research on Arthritis in Canadian Children Emphasizing Outcomes (ReACCh-Out) cohort study, which followed 1,104 children newly diagnosed with JIA from 2005 to 2010 at all paediatric rheumatology centres in Canada. Dr. Lori Tucker is a principal investigator for the ReACCh-Out cohort. Scientists across Canada are currently analyzing the ReACCh-Out Cohort data to gain new insights into how JIA progresses and the best ways to treat it. 

Dr. Tucker is a CFRI Clinical Investigator, a pediatric rheumatologist at BC Children’s and a Clinical Associate Professor with the UBC Division of Rheumatology.

This study was funded by a New Emerging Team research grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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