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    Classification of Juvenile Arthritis

    Classification of Juvenile Arthritis

    Topic Overview

    Previously there were two traditional classifications of juvenile arthritis: the European classification of juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA) and the American classification of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Because these classifications broke down into different categories, European and American research findings and treatment recommendations were hard to use interchangeably.

    In an effort to improve research and treatment, the International League Against Rheumatism has devised a unifying set of international criteria, using the term "juvenile idiopathic arthritis" (JIA). The word "idiopathic" means "of unknown cause." First proposed in 1995 and later revised in 1997, this classification is now used by most researchers and health professionals.

    The table below summarizes the three classification systems.

    Classification systems for juvenile arthritis
    Organization Classification Length of illness before diagnosis
    International League Against Rheumatism Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
    Systemic JIA
    Polyarticular JIA, RF-positive
    Polyarticular JIA, RF-negative
    Oligoarticular JIA
    • Persistent (1 to 4 joints)
    • Extended (eventually affecting 5 or more joints)
    Psoriatic arthritis
    Enthesis-related arthritis
    Other arthritis (also called undifferentiated or unclassified arthritis)
    6 weeks
    American College of Rheumatology Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)
    Systemic JRA
    Polyarticular JRA (5 or more joints)
    Oligoarticular JRA (1 to 4 joints)

    JRA does not include similar types of childhood arthritis (juvenile ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile psoriatic arthritis).

    6 weeks
    European League Against Rheumatism Juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA)
    Systemic JCA
    Polyarticular JCA (5 or more joints, RF-negative)
    Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (5 or more joints, RF-positive)
    Oligoarticular JCA (1 to 4 joints)
    Juvenile psoriatic arthritis
    Juvenile ankylosing spondylitis
    3 months

    Regardless of the classification, children who develop symptoms before reaching 16 years of age are considered to have juvenile arthritis.

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    Credits

    By Healthwise Staff
    Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
    John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
    Last Revised June 5, 2012

    Last Revised: June 5, 2012

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