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ATLANTA — Arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses in children, but it often goes unnoticed and undiagnosed, according to two arthritis-focused organizations seeking to spread awareness about the disease.
The Arthritis Foundation has designated July as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, highlighting the approximately 300,000 children affected by the condition. Children suffering from achy joints are often diagnosed as having "growing pains," but pain, stiffness and swelling in and around the joints may be signs of more serious rheumatic disease.
"When joint pain, swelling or stiffness occurs in one or more of your of children's joints for at least six weeks, it's important not to assume these symptoms are temporary and to get a proper diagnosis from a pediatric arthritis specialist," Arthritis Foundation VP public health policy and advocacy Patience White said. "Early medical treatment of juvenile arthritis can prevent serious, permanent damage to your child's joints and enable her to live an active, full childhood."