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Pediatrics. 1997 Dec;100(6):994-7.

Discontinuation of methotrexate treatment in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Schneider Children's Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Long Island Campus for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New Hyde Park, New York 11040, USA.



Children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) treated with methotrexate (MTX) were examined for their course after the discontinuation of the drug to define the relapse and remission rates and to identify predictors of relapse.


A retrospective chart review of all patients with JRA was conducted in two pediatric rheumatology centers. A total of 101 patients being treated with MTX were identified. Dose, response to the drug, and length of time until reaching a state of complete control were noted. The outcome of patients with a complete response in whom the drug was discontinued was examined with regards to length of time to relapse or continued remission.


In 25 patients, MTX was discontinued after reaching complete control of the disease. There were no statistically significant predictors of response to MTX identified. Of 25 whose MTX was discontinued, relapse occurred in 13 (52%) after a mean of 11 months after discontinuation. There was no significant difference among patients who relapsed or those who remained in remission as to sex, subtype of JRA, number of months to complete control, or number of months in complete control until discontinuing MTX. Patients younger than 41/2 years at diagnosis were found to be more likely to relapse than patients diagnosed at a later age. In 10 of the patients who relapsed, complete control was induced within a mean of 7 months after restarting MTX.


The optimal time for discontinuing MTX in children with JRA who have achieved complete control is unknown. Relapse occurred in approximately half of the patients in whom MTX was discontinued. Because response to reinstitution of the drug is good, it is reasonable to discontinue MTX after prolonged complete control. It remains to be seen whether the relapse rate can be improved by waiting for longer periods of time in complete control before its discontinuation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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