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MMWR: Arthritis Among Children and Adolescents

The CDC estimates that nearly 220,000 children and adolescents had arthritis during 2017–2021. Prevalence (305 per 100,000) increased with age and is higher in 12–17 year olds; non-Hispanic Black or African Americans; those with anxiety or depression; physically inactive; overweight or a heart condition; or lived in a food-insecure or smoking household.

CDC analyzed aggregated 2017–2021 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) data to estimate the national prevalence of parent-reported arthritis diagnosed among children and adolescents aged <18 years. The NSCH is an annual household survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and is the largest national- and state-level survey of U.S. children’s health. NSCH asks parents about the physical and emotional health, well-being, and related factors of a randomly selected child or adolescent aged <18 years in their household.

Previous prevalence estimates among U.S. children and adolescents aged <18 years ranged from 21 to 403 per 100,000 population.

The current study estimates that 220,000 (95% CI = 187,000–260,000) U.S. children and adolescents had diagnosed arthritis, with a prevalence of 305 per 100,000.

A higher prevalence of arthritis in children/adolescence was seen in:

  • non-Hispanic Black or African American (2 fold higher than Whites)
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Overweight and physical inactivity
  • Those with food insecurity

These findings highlight that children and adolescents should be prioritized for arthritis prevention and treatments by identifying risk factors for arthritis, developing self-management interventions to improve arthritis, physical activity or weight control, and screening and linking to mental health services. Health systems and payors can take steps to ensure equitable access to therapies (e.g., physical therapies and medications).

Self-management interventions, physical activity or weight control, screening and linking to mental health services, and equitable access to therapies might improve arthritis outcomes in children and adolescents.


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The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject