In Northern Ireland, a major clinical trial will focus on children suffering from arthritis — not only for the betterment of its treatment but also to reduce brittle bones (osteopenia) in this children as a result of steroid treatments.
The said clinical trial – funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign and is being lead by Consultant Rheumatologist Dr Madeleine Rooney – aims to recruit about 40 local youngsters aged between four and 18 and is being conducted at the Belfast’s Musgrave Park Hospital.
Many children develop osteopenia as a result of taking steroids to treat their diseases.
The team hope their research will lead to new guidelines on the treatment of steroid-induced osteopenia, which could improve the lives of the tens of thousands of children with arthritis who are affected throughout the world.
Also, later in the progress of the said clinical trial, it hopes to extend the study to 230 children and young people from throughout the UK — making this the first multi-centre trial involving children to be led from Northern Ireland.
More than 12,000 children and teenagers in the UK have childhood arthritis, known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIV). Around 400 of them live in Northern Ireland.
Steroids are widely used in the treatment of childhood arthritis and other related conditions, such as lupus, juvenile dermatomyositis or vasculitis.
But the down side of these drugs is that they cause thinning of the bones. More than 50% of children who take steroids develop osteopenia within a year.
The said clinical trial will compare the effectiveness of risedronate (a bisphosphonate drug which protects against bone loss) against 1-Alpha (a more potent form of Vitamin D) on the bone density of the children over a year.
It becomes troubling that young children suffers from arthritis. Whoever said that arthritis is age related?! There are even more concern when children have arthritis because they are still growing.
As Dr. Rooney puts it:
“As a result of early onset arthritis, children develop growth abnormalities, joint damage and osteopenia.
This means they are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis in later life and are at increased risk of fractures, particularly vertebral collapse.
There are currently many studies showing the effectiveness of bisphosphonates in the treatment of osteoporosis in adults – including a significant reduction in fractures, and there are now clear guidelines on how it should be diagnosed and treated.”
But she said, there are no available data to support the effectiveness of bisphosphonates in children. At least now, that’s gonna be looked into, especially these days that early onset or juvenile arthritis has gotten rampant.
Find more details on this at Belfast Telegraph.