A Little Bit About Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis By. Meagan Owen

Essay by meagano1High School, 11th gradeA+, January 2004

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Meagan Owen

November 2002

Anatomy & Physiology

A Little Bit About Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

As teenager myself, I feel that it is important for the youth of America to be informed on less popular diseases that could very well pose as a threat to us. One of those happens to be arthritis.

Now I'm sure that all you young people out there are rolling your eyes, thinking, "I've heard of arthritis!" BUT, I bet you didn't know that there was juvenile arthritis, or

that there are nearly 300,000 children in America with some form of arthritis or rheumatic disease.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is the most common form of arthritis in young people. It may be a mild condition that causes few problems over time, but it can be much more persistent and cause joint and tissue damage in others. JRA can also produce serious complications in more severe cases.

Now I bet you want to know exactly what causes this inconvenient disease. Well...unfortunately, there is no real answer. No one really knows what causes JRA. It may be that some kids have certain genes that make it more likely for them to get it. Then if they are exposed to something in the environment that acts as a "trigger" such as a virus, the disease starts up. But the genes for JRA have to be there to start with. Of course, almost everyone who gets a cold or flu virus won't end up with JRA. And JRA is not contagious, so you can't catch it from someone else, like a cold.

JRA is an autoimmune disease. Normally, a kid's immune system sends out white blood cells to protect the body and fight outside invaders like bacteria and viruses that can make a kid sick. With JRA, the immune system...