JIA Quick Facts

The most prevalent paediatric rheumatic disease is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). It affects 3 per 1000 children below the age of 16 years. This equates to as many as 6000 children and young people in New South Wales (Australia) currently diagnosed with JIA. It is estimated that there are 22,000 people (children and adults) in Australia who suffer from the effects of juvenile onset arthritis.

Children with JIA may suffer disabling pain, stiffness and difficulty performing normal activities of daily living such as caring for themselves, attending school or participating in sporting and social activities. Twenty percent of children with oligoarticular JIA may loose much of their sight (uveitis) and a smaller but significant number will suffer potentially life-threatening complications such as pericarditis (inflammation around the heart), severe infection or macrophage activation syndrome (overwhelming systemic inflammation).

There are a number of subgroups of JIA, which include:

  • Oligoarticular JIA involves up to four joints. This form classically affects children in the preschool ages. Children often present with a limp and morning stiffness with swelling of the joints.
  • Polyarticular JIA involves five or more joints and includes the very aggressive rheumatoid factor positive form of JIA. This causes rapid and irreversible joint destruction if not treated promptly and aggressively. Children with a positive rheumatoid factor continue
to have disease throughout their lives and frequently experience long-term disability.
  • Systemic JIA is a form of the disease that is associated with high fevers, rash, weight loss and serositis, including pericarditis that may cause life threatening pericardial tamponade. Up to 70% will continue to have disease into adulthood.
  • Enthesitis Related Arthritis is the juvenile form of adult spondyloarthropathy. It includes ankylosing spondylitis and is characterised by the presence of enthesitis (inflammation of tendons and ligaments where they insert into bone) and arthritis in childhood and progresses to involve the spine in adolescence and adulthood. Remission rates are low and long-term disability is high. 

  • Psoriatic Arthritis is associated with psoriasis, which is an inflammatory skin condition and it may cause a destructive arthritis that most often continues into adulthood. 

Source: ACI, Model of Care for JIA, NSW, May 2013