Serious infections in infancy increase arthritis risk

Serious infections during the first year of a child's life can increase the risk of developing arthritis in early adulthood, according to Swedish research.

Using data from national registers, the researchers tracked the health of 3,500 people born between 1973 and 2002.

Overall, they found that infections requiring hospital admission during the first year of life more than doubled the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis as a young adult. 

Serious infections also nearly doubled the risk of juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

The researchers, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, conclude that infections in early life may alter the way in which the immune system develops.

BMJ Online 2008

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