Objective: To establish a computerized national diagnostic register for pediatric rheumatology in the UK; to describe the demography and diagnostic classification of children referred to pediatric rheumatology clinics; to estimate the current incidence of juvenile arthritis (JA) in the UK.
Methods: A diagnostic register was established in 1989: 23 centers have contributed data on all new cases seen since they joined the register; 18 centers have also contributed data on all current attenders. For 2 centers with well defined catchment areas, the incidence of JA was estimated.
Results: A total of 4948 cases were registered, of whom 2962 (60%) were female. 1991 (40%) had a diagnosis of JA. The 2nd largest category was mechanical/orthopedic problems (24%). Pauciarticular juvenile chronic arthritis was the most common subtype of JA. Seropositive RA was rare. Tertiary referral centers saw proportionately more JA and district general hospitals saw proportionately more mechanical problems. The annual incidence rate for JA from 2 centers was 10/100,000, and for all rheumatic disorders was 32-42/100,000 children under age 16.
Conclusion: The relative proportion of patient diagnoses varies between centers. Nevertheless, the incidence of hospital referred JA seems very uniform.