Rheumatic diseases affect 1 in 1,000 Greek children under 18 years - What do experts say?

rheumatic diseases

Although there is still no official data in Greece on the prevalence of chronic neurological diseases in children, it is estimated that they affect 1 in 1,000 children under the age of 18, making it one of the ten most common chronic diseases of minors.

The Paediatric Rheumatology European Society (PReS) and the European Network for Children with Arthritis and Autoinflammatory Diseases (ENCA) have designated March 18th as World Young Rheumatic Diseases Day (WORD Day). This day is dedicated to educating the public about Juvenile Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Diseases and raising awareness of the importance of early diagnosis by properly trained physicians to provide children with optimal multidisciplinary care.

"Rheumatopathies" or chronic rheumatic diseases mainly affect the musculoskeletal system and have flare-ups and remissions. Their common feature is chronic aseptic inflammation of the connective tissue, which is abundant in this system.

Aseptic means that no microbe, virus, or other agent is found to trigger and maintain this response of the immune (defence) system to one or more unknown stimuli. When they first appear in patients under the age of 18, they are called Juvenile Rheumatic Diseases (JRD).

"In Greece, there are still no official data on the incidence (number of new cases/year) and on the prevalence (number of total cases/year) of these chronic diseases," points out Maria Trahana, President of the Hellenic Pediatric Rheumatology Society. "According to global epidemiological data, the occurrence of JRD's is attributed to a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental influences, and therefore their incidence and prevalence varies by geographic region and race."

Their clinical picture "is not a micrograph of the corresponding diseases of adults and their treatment today, as in adults, is targeted and aimed at suppressing aseptic inflammation and not only at relieving the symptoms," explains Polyxeni Pratsidou-Gertsi, President of the Scientific Committee of the REUMAZIN Federation. "Additionally, where needed, physical therapy or a special exercise program at home is implemented to maintain physical functionality and daily activities at the same level as their peers. At the same time - where required - the family is supported psychologically for living with the chronic rheumatic disease."

The president of the Hellenic Society of Rheumatology and the Professional Association of Rheumatologists of Greece, Dimitris Karokis, emphasised: "Juvenile Rheumatic Diseases are a group of rare chronic inflammatory conditions. This means they persist for many years and often continue into adulthood."

"Our country's most common Juvenile Rheumatic Diseases are Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), Rare Juvenile Primary Systemic Vasculitis and Juvenile-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (jSLE)," he said, adding: "There are still no epidemiological data on their frequency in Greece."

"JIA is estimated to affect approximately 1 in 1,000 children under the age of 18 and belongs to the ten most common chronic diseases of minors. However, it is about ten times rarer than the corresponding adult disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis. The most common form of rheumatism in children is rheumatoid arthritis. It presents approximately the same frequency as Juvenile Diabetes Mellitus and Childhood Epilepsy," the president of the Hellenic Society of Rheumatology concluded.

This article first appeared in Ygeia Mou. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos.

READ MORE: What causes liver cirrhosis? A Greek doctor explains the symptoms and complications.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024