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    Classification of Juvenile Arthritis

    Classification of Juvenile Arthritis

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    Topic Overview

    There used to be two ways to classify juvenile arthritis. There was the European classification of juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA). And there was the American classification of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Each system used different categories. This made it hard to use European and American research findings and treatment guidelines together.

    To improve research and treatment, the International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) has devised a set of international criteria that uses the term "juvenile idiopathic arthritis" (JIA). The word "idiopathic" means "of unknown cause." This approach is now used by most researchers and health professionals.

    The table below summarizes the three systems.

    Classification systems for juvenile arthritis
    Organization Classification Length of illness before diagnosis
    International League of Associations for Rheumatology Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
    Systemic JIA
    Polyarticular JIA, RF-positive
    Polyarticular JIA, RF-negative
    Oligoarticular JIA
    • Persistent. It affects 1 to 4 joints.
    • Extended. Over time it affects 5 or more joints.
    Psoriatic arthritis
    Enthesis-related arthritis
    Other arthritis (This is also called undifferentiated or unclassified arthritis.)
    6 weeks
    American College of Rheumatology Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)
    Systemic JRA
    Polyarticular JRA. It affects 5 or more joints.
    Oligoarticular JRA. It affects 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. It affects 5 or more joints and is RF-negative.
    Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It affects 5 or more joints and is RF-positive.
    Oligoarticular JCA. It affects 1 to 4 joints.
    Juvenile psoriatic arthritis
    Juvenile ankylosing spondylitis
    3 months

    No matter the classification, children who have symptoms before age 16 are said to have juvenile arthritis.

    Related Information


    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
    E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
    Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
    Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
    Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics

    Current as ofOctober 31, 2016

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