Although arthritis usually doesn’t affect people until they’re well into their adult life, the disease also affects children. In Canada, thousands of kids suffer from it.
According to a report by the Arthritis Society, approximately 24,000 Canadian children 18 and under are living with some form of arthritis. That is 3 out of every 1,000 kids.
The most common type of arthritis in children is juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which appears before the age of 16. Other forms of the disease, such as lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and vasculitis are also found among children.
Osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of the disease among adults, is rare among children, however.
The Arthritis Society’s figures, drawn from a report by the Arthritis Community Research & Evaluation Unit (ACREU), are estimated based on analyses of data from Canadian Community Health Surveys from 2007 to 2010, and were reviewed with guidance by paediatric rheumatologists.
Janet Yale, president and CEO of the Arthritis Society, says the high number of children affected by the disease is troubling.
“We need improved testing and treatment protocols, increased investment in research, and impactful programs and services that will ease the burden of arthritis for children in Canada,” Yale said in a statement.
“Having a clear consensus on the size of the problem is an important step to being able to address [the disease], and it should help bring the Canadian arthritis community together in common cause to support these children and their families,” added ACREU director Dr. Elizabeth Badley, who led the analysis.
According to Statistics Canada, there were close to 4.5 million people in Canada in 2012 living with arthritis, with an almost to two to one ratio for the number of females affected compared to males.
A 2011 report by the Arthritis Alliance of Canada found that the most prevalent forms of arthritis costs the Canadian economy $33 billion in direct (i.e. healthcare expenses) and indirect (i.e. lost productivity and taxes) expenses.