Psoriatic Arthritis In Children 'May Also Be Present In Infancy'

Written by Walter Printz on June 30, 2020 — fact checked by Karin Priest

In addition to the ongoing controversy surrounding the current popular panacea for arthritis, there are occasional worrying reports about the condition occurring in children. New research now suggests that the condition may even be present in infancy.

Psoriatic Arthritis: a form of arthritis that is already present in children?

Psoriatic arthritis (PD) is an autoimmune condition that often affects the skin and joints of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

This condition is characterized by painful swelling of skin-to-skin skin contact and swelling of the joints of the arms and legs.

Some studies suggest that infants and toddlers develop PD, but no studies have been carried out in large groups of healthy, as yet still-developing infants.

Researchers from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, and the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, have now investigated whether or not PD is present in otherwise healthy infants, and their results may be surprising.

Senior study author Dr. Sandra Grachek, from the Department of Family Medicine at Drexel University, explains that the study does not "draw any conclusions about causing, but also provides evidence that the condition, for which there is no solid biological explanation, may also be present in babies and toddlers."

The results were presented yesterday at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Dallas, TX.

How prevalent is PD in infants?

The researchers used data from the International Childhood Arthritis Registry, which is a study that has followed the development of 2,080 individuals from birth to the age of 6 years.

The researchers used this registry as a proof of concept, focusing specifically on the Developmental Cohort Study (DCS), to investigate if PD has been present in infants and whether or not it affects the behavior of the children.

More specifically, Dr. Grachek and her team investigated whether or not PD is present in 381 children from the DCS. The researchers analyzed a wide range of health tests, as well as medical records that contain their interviews with the children, their parents, and caregivers.

The team also measured the degree of PD in every child using the Kaplan-Meier Aging scale of PD. This scale assesses the length of time to which the children have exhibited changes in their scale score of PD, and counts them as PD at that time.

The researchers reported a 6.7 percent PD prevalence. The study authors also reviewed medical records with the DCS cohort to determine whether PD appeared, in time, in the children's parents. They found that 26 children aged 8 years or younger had PD, while the rest were either normal-appearing or non-PD children.

"The key findings from this study in healthy babies and toddlers, regardless of a diagnosis of DM or DMOA [diabetes and impaired kidney function], indicate an active, probably intergenerational disease." Dr. Sandra Grachek

'We do not yet know the gene responsible'

The reason for PD's appearance in children, the study concludes, is still unclear, but previous studies have already revealed that some parents have found that their children may display signs of PD in early infancy.

Dr. Grachek suggests that there could be multiple factors that determine whether or not PD emerges before age 1, as well as what is occurring in the amniotic fluid in the womb.

"They have to be born at a time where their immune system is immature and might have an affinity for these target [cell] proteins that are associated with PD. Currently we do not yet know the gene responsible for PD." Dr. Sandra Grachek

In the future, as the researchers hope, they will continue their work and advance their understanding of PD. Ultimately, Dr. Grachek hopes that the findings may inspire future research and the development of better treatment options.

"The purpose of our study was to help guide doctors to ensure their patients have not developed PD in the time after birth in infancy. What we now know is that PD is probably a frequent development early in life." Dr. Sandra Grachek

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Written by Walter Printz on June 30, 2020 — fact checked by Karin Priest

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