Causes and Risk Factors for Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Although the cause for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, the condition is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. This means that the patient's immune system cannot distinguish between the body's own cells and invading organisms (e.g., bacteria, viruses) and launches an attack (called an immune system response) against healthy cells—releasing chemicals that damage healthy tissue and cause inflammation and pain.

There is research that suggests some children have a genetic predisposition to JRA, represented by the presence of certain genetic markers, but that they only develop the disease after being exposed to an (unknown) environmental trigger, such as a virus or bacterium. However, not all children with the genetic profile develop JRA, and many children without the genetic markers develop juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 07 Sep 2008

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015