July is National Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. An estimated 300,000+ children have been diagnosed with some form of Juvenile Arthritis.

Juvenile Arthritis, or JA, is an umbrella term that describes many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children or teens.

There are various types of JA, including:

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) - The most common form of childhood arthritis, JIA includes six subtypes: oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, systemic, enthesitis-related, juvenile psoriatic arthritis or undifferentiated. 

Juvenile dermatomyositis - An inflammatory disease, juvenile dermatomyositis causes muscle weakness and a skin rash on the knuckles or eyelids.

 Juvenile lupus - Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood and other parts of the body.

 Juvenile scleroderma - Scleroderma, which literally means “hard skin,” describes a group of conditions that can cause the skin to tighten and harden.

 Kawasaki disease - This disease causes blood vessel inflammation that can lead to heart complications.

 Mixed connective tissue disease - This disease may include features of arthritis, lupus dermatomyositis and scleroderma, and is associated with very high levels of a particular antinuclear antibody called anti-RNP.

 Fibromyalgia - This chronic pain syndrome is an arthritis-related condition, which can cause stiffness and aching, along with fatigue, disrupted sleep and other symptoms. More common in girls, fibromyalgia is seldom diagnosed before puberty.

Many parents and families are unaware that their children are showing symptoms of JA, writing off joint pain as “growing pains, swollen joints and a fever as the flu, or difficulty walking and playing as being lazy.

This isn’t a slight at those parents, as most people don’t know that children can even get arthritis.

Since the human body’s immune system does not fully form until the age of 18, an “autoimmune” disease like JA is extremely aggressive on a child.

There are multiple groups that are trying to help these kids fight and look for cures for Juvenile Arthritis.

If you’re looking to help the cause or to help someone you think may have Juvenile or Adult Arthritis, The Arthritis Foundation and Arthritis Research are two of the best organizations.

To show your support during the month of July, Blue Awareness Ribbons are worn or displayed.