New arthritis treatments for children

December 2, 2011 2:44:33 PM PST
Many people think of arthritis as a problem that affects us as we age, but the painful condition can also develop in children.

5-year-old Katie Groshans is maybe on her way to being a future gymnast but you would have said so seeing a home video from two years ago.

Katie's joints were so painful she couldn't walk down the stairs.

Her feet shuffled along the floor.

She couldn't keep up with other kids.

Katie had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

"Christmas morning she was in tears, couldn't even come down the steps to see all the presents that Santa had left. It got so bad that she couldn't even roll over in her sleep without being in excruciating pain," said Lisa Groshans, Katie's mother.

Rheumatologist Norman Ilowite knew what Katie had.

He also had some new drugs to use with her.

"It's a gratifying time to be a pediatric rheumatologist, because the medications are better and the outcomes are so much better than they used to be," said Dr. Norman Ilowite, of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore.

Things are so much better that Katie is in complete remission, which happens in a minority of kids.

The drug Katie used has a self injector.

It's one of a handful of drugs that have only been around for the last 10 years.

About 70% of kids have some response to these new drugs, despite the risk of long term use, infection, even cancer.

The Groshans' outlook?

"Hopeful but still scared, the side effect, to weigh the risks of long term damage to her joints if we didn't do it, I was reluctant to put her on anything but I knew what could happen in the long run if you didn't help her with the medication," said Keith Groshans, Katie's father.

What let to the discovery of that medication was money for research, such as the money to be raised on Sunday morning at the Jingle Bell Run and Walk in Battery Park, sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation.

For more information please visit: