10:45 AM

Juvenile arthritis can go undiagnosed in children, but nearly 300,000 U.S. kids have it

CBS News This Morning interviews Karen Brandt Onel, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology at HSS, who explained the symptoms of stiffness and joint swelling to look for in children with juvenile arthritis. 

“A lot of times when people come into the office they’re shocked that kids get arthritis, and that such a thing exists” said Dr. Onel. “But also they might feel guilty. They probably have thought that the child has growing pains and is fine. It’s never normal for kids to have swollen joints.” She continued, “It’s easy to blame it on an injury, but the reality is that especially for little ones, they don’t fall hard enough, or twist enough so that they get swelling from an injury. Swelling is never normal, stiffness is never normal.” 

Dr. Onel added, “Nobody knows children the way their parents do. When parents see that there’s a change, a difference, even if it’s something the doctor might not be familiar with, they’re the ones who know.  I think parents have to be key advocates for their kids, but also we [physicians] have to make sure that we listen.” 

When asked if juvenile arthritis goes away as kids get older, Dr. Onel noted, “About 40% of the kids have active arthritis into adulthood,” stating “we have incredibly effective medications - so when people say will they have this forever? The answer is they may or may not.” 

Dr. Onel concluded, “On the medications, they’ll be able to grow up and do everything they want to do. And really the studies show that 20 years down the road, even on medications, kids are off doing everything they can.”

Watch the full segment at CBSnews.com.