In my PhD project I look for a possible relationship between ongoing chronic inflammation, the body composition, the muscle strength, and the metabolism in children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), paying special attention to the impact of daily physical activity in the children.
The project is structured as a descriptive cross-sectional study of patients followed at the outpatient clinic for Pediatric Rheumatology at Rigshospitalet.
Adult patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis have a well-documented increased risk of developing insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Prolonged chronic inflammation is probably an important driver, but a physically inactive lifestyle may well contribute, as muscle activity is important for maintaining a normal energy-balance.
Although we now have effective medications that can prohibit joint destruction, we still do not have a cure. Children with JIA most likely have a constant inflammation, albeit of varying strength, and this may increase the risk of early development of metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease, as seen in adults. However, it is possible that normal physical activity can help in reducing this risk considerably.
The arthritis in JIA is painful and may easily lead to a sedentary lifestyle with unwillingness to participate in physical activities at school and with peers. In light of this, it is particularly important to examine whether the children who, despite their illness, participate equally with their peers in physical activities have a healthier metabolic profile than the inactive. If this is the case, we can improve the prognosis for many children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis considerably by helping them to a change in lifestyle in a more physically active direction alongside with appropriate medication.
Consultant Dr.med. Freddy Karup Pedersen, Pediatric Clinic II, Rigshospitalet, Professor of International Pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen, Consultant Dr.med. Klaus Müller, Paediatric Clinic II, Rigshospitalet, and Lic.phil. Dr.med. Lars Bo Andersen, Professor at the Department of Physiology and Biomechanics at the University of Southern Denmark