Arthritis Among Children and Adolescents Aged <18 Years

United States, 2017-2021

Tyler D. Lites, MPH; Anika L. Foster, DrPH; Michael A. Boring, MS; Elizabeth A. Fallon, PhD; Erica L. Odom, DrPH; Puja Seth, PhD


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2023;72(29):788-792. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Arthritis affects persons of all ages, including younger adults, adolescents, and children; however, recent arthritis prevalence estimates among children and adolescents aged <18 years are not available. Previous prevalence estimates among U.S. children and adolescents aged <18 years ranged from 21 to 403 per 100,000 population depending upon the case definition used. CDC analyzed aggregated 2017–2021 National Survey of Children's Health data to estimate the national prevalence of parent-reported arthritis diagnosed among children and adolescents aged <18 years. An estimated 220,000 (95% CI = 187,000–260,000) U.S. children and adolescents aged <18 years (305 per 100,000) had diagnosed arthritis. Arthritis prevalence among non-Hispanic Black or African American children and adolescents was twice that of non-Hispanic White children and adolescents. Co-occurring conditions, including depression, anxiety, overweight, physical inactivity, and food insecurity were associated with higher prevalences of arthritis. These findings highlight that children and adolescents should be prioritized for arthritis prevention and treatments by identifying risk factors for arthritis, developing self-management interventions to improve arthritis, physical activity or weight control, and screening and linking to mental health services. Health systems and payors can take steps to ensure equitable access to therapies (e.g., physical therapies and medications).


Previous estimates of the number of arthritis cases and prevalence among U.S. children and adolescents aged <18 years range from 13,400 (21 per 100,000 population) in one 1978 study using a very narrow definition of juvenile arthritis[1] to 294,000 (403 per 100,000) during 2001–2004 using a much broader definition of pediatric arthritis and other rheumatologic conditions.[2] Although children and adolescents can receive diagnoses of many types of arthritis, the most common are acquired autoinflammatory diseases* that are associated with joint pain, swelling, stiffness, physical disability, and activity limitation that often persist into adulthood; depression and anxiety often co-occur with arthritis among children and adolescents.[3–5] The National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) is an annual household survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau designed and funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau. It is the largest national- and state-level survey of U.S. children's health and uses a national address-based sample for online or mail collection of data from parents. NSCH asks parents about the physical and emotional health, well-being, and related factors of one randomly selected§,¶ child or adolescent aged <18 years from their household.

*The seven most common autoinflammatory arthritis types among children and adolescents include 1) oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, 2) polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis–rheumatoid factor negative, 3) polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis–rheumatoid factor positive, 4) enthesitis-related juvenile idiopathic arthritis, 5) psoriatic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, 6) systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and 7) undifferentiated arthritis.
Respondent relationship to the child was defined as biologic or adoptive parent, stepparent, grandparent, foster parent, other relative, other nonrelative, or missing response.