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From Fear to Hope: National Juvenile Arthritis Conference Changes Lives of Families of Children and Young Adults with Juvenile Arthritis

July 3, 2013

LOS ANGELES - Fifteen-year-old Caitlin looks and acts like a typical high school sophomore. One would never guess that both of her hips were replaced by the age of 12 as a result of systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Nearly 300,000 children like Caitlin are affected by juvenile arthritis (JA), an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger. JA not only causes swelling and inflammation of a growing child's joints, but it can also affect a child's eyes, skin and internal organs for a lifetime if not quickly or properly diagnosed.

Caitlin's mother, Colleen, described her journey as a parent of a child with JA. "Sleepless nights comforting a child with high spiking fevers and uncontrollable pain. Days of doctors visits in search of a proper diagnosis and treatment while juggling the demands of work and the family. Twenty-four hours of feeling alone, not knowing where to turn for help or support." However, 9 years ago, Colleen, Caitlin and their family attended their first Juvenile Arthritis Conference, and the journey of living with JA changed from fear to hope.

The Arthritis Foundation will host the 2013 National Juvenile Arthritis Conference on July 18-21 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County hotel in Anaheim, Calif. Children and young adults with JA and their families will be inspired to "Dream, Believe and Achieve," the theme of this year's life-changing forum. Top medical and lifestyle experts will educate participants on topics ranging from diet and nutrition to the latest news on research and treatments for those with JA. Additional educational tracks will be offered for children, Spanish-speaking parents and young adults with arthritis. Fun family activities will be held throughout the conference, including "superheroes" activities on opening night and an unforgettable evening out at the Disneyland Resort for all registered attendees.

Throughout the conference, participants of all ages will discover that they are not alone. They will leave the conference feeling energized, armed with valuable information and resources, and supported by an entire community who understands the experience of living with JA. As Colleen says, "My family leaves each conference with a full brain, a full tank, a full heart and engines revving with Hope."

To learn more about the Juvenile Arthritis Conference, visit www.arthritis.org/jaconf. The early bird registration deadline is June 20. For more information about the many resources on JA offered by the Arthritis Foundation, visit www.arthritis.org

SOURCE: PR Newswire

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