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Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1990 Oct;20(2):97-106.

Nutritional status and growth in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC.


The specific cause of short stature in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is unknown. One hypothesis links altered growth to inadequate dietary intake. In this study, nutritional status was assessed in 34 children with JRA (8 with systemic JRA, 14 with polyarticular JRA, and 12 with pauciarticular JRA) and 9 healthy controls using 3-day diet records, anthropometrics, and biochemical analyses. Differences in growth were found among the three types of JRA. One third of all subjects were at or below the 10th percentile in height for age (these being predominantly among the systemic and polyarticular groups). With few exceptions, the mean dietary intake for calories and essential nutrients was found to be adequate for each of the three groups. However, more than half of those with systemic JRA reportedly consumed less than the recommended caloric intake for their age and weight. No significant correlations were found linking dietary intake to growth percentiles in any of the groups studied. Biochemical abnormalities were found among the systemic and polyarticular groups. These abnormalities included low plasma levels of vitamins A and C, proteins (albumin, prealbumin, and retinol binding protein) and zinc; and increased levels of copper and glutathione peroxidase activity. Plasma selenium and vitamin E levels were unchanged. The discrepancy between intake and certain circulating nutrient levels may reflect alterations in the requirements, absorption, or use of these nutrients in the presence of chronic inflammation.

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