This site is intended for health professionals only

Infant infections increase risk of arthritis

Swedish researchers have found that serious infections during the first year of a child's life more than doubled the chances of rheumatoid arthritis developing in early adulthood.

They tracked the health of over 3,500 people born between 1973 and 2002 and found that serious infections were also shown to greatly increase the risk of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a form of arthritis that affects only young children and teens. A longer than average pregnancy also boosted the chances of this type of arthritis.

Compared with people without inflammatory disease, being born early, small or underweight reduced the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis as a young adult, while having more than three siblings increased it.

The exploratory study, which will be published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, suggests that infections in early life may alter the way in which the immature immune system develops.

Click here for full article