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Juvenile Arthritis Can Hinder Finding Work, Study Finds

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers in Great Britain have confirmed what many young adults living with arthritis already know: having juvenile arthritis in childhood makes it more difficult to be successfully employed as an adult.

It's something Dr. Patience White, vice president of public health for the Arthritis Foundation also knows.  She says even a good education may not be enough to overcome the challenge of a disability that begins in childhood.

"The real issue is they haven't had enough pre-employment experience, whether it's babysitting, volunteering or working a paper route," she said.  "What happens to kids with chronic illnesses is they don't get to do that."

Almost 300,000 children in the U.S. have juvenile arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.  Past research has found they experience higher rates of unemployment as adults than their healthy peers.

Thursday's study, published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, found that the degree of disability matters.  The study followed 103 adult patients who had been diagnosed as children with juvenile arthritis.  People who suffered greater disability as children accomplished less as adults.  They were less likely to be employed and they found it harder to hold the jobs they got.  The majority of those who were unemployed said their disease was the reason they couldn't find work.

White says the study shows children growing up with juvenile arthritis will need special guidance from parents and professionals as they set their goals.

"You want young people to get as much education as they possibly can, and think about their functional status and what the job requirements are so they don't set themselves up for failure," White said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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