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CDC estimates 220,000 in US under 18 diagnosed with arthritis

An estimated 220,000 children and adolescents in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Lauren Sforza, The Hill, Oct 23, 2023

While arthritis is most often associated with older adults, the disease can affect people of any age, including children. However, the CDC stated that data on the disease has not been well documented among those under the age of 18 until recently.

The new report found that there were an estimated 220,000 children and adolescents under the age of 18 who had arthritis between 2017 and 2021. This is a more precise number than previous estimates of the disease’s prevalence in the younger population, which placed the number of cases among those under 18 anywhere between 13,400 and 294,000.

“The findings from this report highlight children and adolescents to prioritize for arthritis prevention and treatment by identifying risk factors for arthritis among children and adolescents, developing self-management interventions to improve childhood arthritis, physical activity or weight control, and screening and linking children and adolescents to needed mental health services,” the report states.

The report said that the health industry addressing “social determinants of health and systemic factors” that could lead to arthritis “needs to be prioritized.”

The report found racial and ethnic disparities in arthritis diagnoses in children and adolescents, with the condition being twice as prevalent among Black children than white children.

It noted that arthritis was most common in those with diagnosed depression, a heart condition or anxiety. It also said that the condition was more prevalent among those who were physically inactive compared with those who were active.

The report used data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, in which “diagnosed arthritis” was defined as parents answering “yes” to whether a medical professional had told them their child had the disease.

The Mayo Clinic defines arthritis as the “swelling and tenderness of one or more joints,” which can cause pain and stiffness in the affected area.

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