Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), also called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), is an auto immune disease mainly affecting children before the age of 16. Symptoms can include inflammation of the joints, which can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, rash, fever and eye inflammation.
An estimated 300,000 children are affected by juvenile arthritis. A new study has linked the prevalent use of antibiotics to the development of JRA.
“Previous studies have shown that genetics explains less than half of cases of JIA,” notes lead study author Dr. Daniel Horton of Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE. “Other studies have not consistently identified any one particular environmental trigger.”
The study examined data from a British population-based database of medical records and the research identified 153 children who had been diagnosed with JIA before the age of 16. They also randomly selected age- and sex-matched children without JIA to act as controls, and the antibiotic exposure of all children was assessed.
The research finding reveal that children exposed to antibacterial antibiotics had an increased risk of developing JIA compared to children who had not been exposed to antibiotics. The risk increased with- were at higher risk of developing JIA than those who had not been exposed to these antibiotics. This risk was higher for children who had been exposed to multiple courses of antibiotics.
Dr. Horton highlighted the over-prescription of antibiotics as a contributing factor. “While antibiotics are certainly essential to treating some infections, these drugs are also over-prescribed for other infections – frequently respiratory – that will usually resolve without treatment”.