Antibiotic use has been linked to the most common form of juvenile arthritis.

Most Common Juvenile Arthritis Linked To Antibiotic Use In Children

It’s been a rough year for antibiotics, and a new link between juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), also called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), could now been added to the list of possible side effects from antibiotic use in children. New research that was presented in Boston at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting showed that antibiotic use in children seems to increase the risk of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, according to Medical News Today, is an autoimmune disease that generally occurs in kids before they turn 16-years-old.

“It is characterized by inflammation of the joints, which can cause pain, swelling and stiffness. JIA can also cause rash, fever and eye inflammation.”

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most common arthritis that kids can suffer from, and it causes difficulties for 300,000 children in America today, according to Rheumatology. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there are 74.2 million children. So, approximately 0.4 percent of U.S. children suffer from this form of arthritis.

“Previous studies have shown that genetics explains less than half of cases of JIA,” lead study author Dr. Daniel Horton of Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children explained. “Other studies have not consistently identified any one particular environmental trigger.”

Horton’s team used data from The Health Improvement Network, which is a population-based database of UK medical records, to identify 153 juveniles with this form of arthritis. They randomly selected gender and age-matched kids to be controls in the study. The researchers looked at antibiotic exposure, as well as how many series of antibiotics were given, and compared the two groups of juveniles.

The results showed that juveniles who had been exposed to antibiotics were at the highest risk for this type of arthritis. The more antibiotics taken, the higher the risks seemed to be. To check variables, the researchers adjusted the data by age and other possible factors, but the results stayed the same. Horton explained the implications and the way the information might be used.

“While antibiotics are certainly essential to treating some infections, these drugs are also overprescribed for other infections – frequently respiratory – that will usually resolve without treatment. If the link between antibiotics and juvenile arthritis can be confirmed, antibiotic avoidance – in the right clinical situation – might be one of the few ways we have to prevent this life-changing disease.”

The study came about because of the growing recognition that “dysregulation of the human microbiome has been implicated in the development of several autoimmune diseases.” Also, antibiotic exposure had previously been linked to inflammatory bowel disease in kids, according to a press release about the new research on the possible link between this type of arthritis in juveniles and antibiotic exposure.

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