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Arthritis Can Hit Kids Too

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Arthritis is usually thought of as a joint disorder that affects adults but it can hit toddlers too, as shown by a recent case in Bolton, the BBC reports.

Blaze, the two-year-old daughter of Kelly O’Sullivan, was eventually diagnosed with arthritis to the surprise of her mother who thought it wasn’t something that small children could suffer from.

The little girl’s unusual symptoms – a rash all over her body and swollen joints that made her not want to walk – surfaced in January when she was 18 months old. She was given different drugs and antibiotics as the symptoms were thought to be caused by a viral infection. After staying in hospital for several weeks and being subjected to various tests, including a bone marrow test and lymph node biopsy, the toddler was finally diagnosed with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

JIA relates to arthritic conditions that affect children, more often girls than boys. All these conditions cause inflammation but little is known about the nature and progress of JIA. It is estimated that 12,000 children in Britain suffer from a type of arthritis and about a third have their symptoms continue into adulthood.

Blaze is now taking steroids to manage her symptoms but she cannot run and play the way normal toddlers do. She is one of the participants in a study on more than 1,300 children conducted by the University of Manchester and supported by the Arthritis Research UK charity, which aims to learn more about JIA.

Children in the study, which started in 2001, are examined every year until they turn 16 and further checks are made when they are 18 and 21.

Blaze’s mother enrolled her in the study hoping that its findings will help another family in the future.