Children and adolescents with JIA are also likely to develop other autoimmune diseases beyond diabetes.
An increased risk of developing diabetes was linked to individuals who suffer from juvenile inflammatory arthritis (JIA), a disease that affects between 20 and 150 children per 100,000.
Although there are apparent clinical differences between autoimmune diseases, they still share several genetic risk factors. This means that both children and adolescents with JIA are likely to develop other autoimmune diseases.
For the study, researchers collected data from the German National Pediatric Rheumatologic database (NPRD) from 2012 to 2013 in 9350 JIA patients with a mean age of 12-years-old and a mean disease duration of 4.5 years. The results of the study showed that 50 children with JIA were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, equivalent to a prevalence of 0.5%.
When compared to an age and sex matched sample of the general population, there was a significant increase in prevalence of diabetes in JIA patients. There were approximately double the prevalence ratio for JIA patients with diabetes compared with the controls (1.92 for girls and 2.04 for boys).
Additionally, the study revealed that 58% of patients developed diabetes before JIA, and the onset of diabetes was an average of 5 years before the onset of JIA. For patients who had JIA before they developed type 1 diabetes, the average rate of diabetes development was nearly 3 years after the onset of JIA.
A majority of patients in the study did not receive any disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs prior to the onset of diabetes. Also, patients with type 1 diabetes did not significantly differ in severity of JIA compared with those who did not have diabetes.
The findings were presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2016).
“We know that there is a clear increase in the prevalence of juvenile inflammatory arthritis in young people with type 1 diabetes compared with the general pediatric population,” said researcher Kirsten Minden. “However, this study shows the reverse correlation that type 1 diabetes occurs more commonly in patients with JIA.
The next step is to explore in detail the factors and mechanisms that link the 2 diseases, and confirm that these findings are applicable to other geographic areas, where different environmental and genetic factors are at play. By better understanding this link, we may be able to develop new preventative and therapeutic interventions.”