How common is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?

About 1 out of 1,000 children have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).1 There are three types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Pauciarticular JRA (also known as oligoarthritis) and polyarticular JRA (also known as polyarthritis) are most common in girls. Systemic JRA is equally common in boys and girls.2

The three types of JRA affect children at the following rates:3

  • About 60% of all children with JRA have pauciarticular symptoms during the first 6 months. While as many as 1 out of 5 of these children goes on to develop polyarticular symptoms, most continue to have less than 4 joints affected over time.4
  • About 30% of all children with JRA have polyarticular symptoms.
  • About 10% of all children with JRA have systemic symptoms.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can occur at higher rates among certain ethnic groups and in some geographic areas. Environmental and genetic factors are thought to be responsible, though researchers have yet to confirm this theory.4


  1. Miller ML, Cassidy JT (2007). Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., chap. 154, pp. 1001–1011. Philadelphia: Saunders.
  2. Wallace CA, Sherry DD (2003). Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 21st ed., chap 12.4, pp. 836–840. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  3. Cassidy JT (2005). Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In ED Harris Jr et al., eds., Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1579–1596. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders.
  4. Warren RW, et al. (2005). Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis). In WJ Koopman, LW Moreland, eds., Arthritis and Allied Conditions, 15th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1277–1300. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Last Updated: June 25, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology

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