Spike in number of Aussie kids being treated for arthritis

THE number of Australian children being admitted to hospital with juvenile arthritis tripled between 2000-01 and 2009-10, new figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed today.

While juvenile arthritis affects just 0.3% of all Australian children, the institute's latest report highlighted a possible increase in the number of children with the condition.

Institute spokesman Nigel Harding said while the evidence was limited, the data suggested more girls suffered from juvenile arthritis than boys.

The report revealed the hospitalisation rate for the condition rose from 8.8 for every 100,000 people in 2000-01 to 28.9 in 100,000 people in 2009-10, with girls accounting for most of the rise.

"There are a few possible explanations for the increase in the hospitalisation rate," Mr Harding said.

"These include an increase in the number of children with the condition, changes in hospital admission practices for this condition, changes in the procedures available to treat the condition in hospital and broader changes in the way this condition is managed in the health care system."

But the institute could not yet confirm which factor was definitely contributing to the rising hospitalisation rate among girls.

Topics:  doctors health hospital lifestyle study

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