Objective: To estimate the incidence and prevalence rates of juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA).
Methods: The study population was children under 16 years of age living in the East Berlin area (part of the former German Democratic Republic). By admission order that was effective up to 1990, all children with symptoms of a rheumatic disease living in the East Berlin area had to be referred to the 2nd Children's Hospital at Berlin-Buch. This specific condition allowed us to ascertain cases from the clinical records and to calculate population rates. Based upon this data, the results of surveys with different methods of case ascertainment are compared.
Results: An incidence rate of 3.5 per 100,000 and a prevalence rate of 2.0 per 10,000 children were calculated. The frequency of JCA is higher for girls, with an incidence of 4.3 per 100,000 and a prevalence of 2.3 per 10,000. The figures for boys are 2.7 per 100,000 and 1.7 per 10,000, respectively.
Conclusion: Because of the specific prerequisites, the population rates of prevalence and incidence that were based on clinical records can be regarded as valid in this study. Deviant results of other surveys can be explained by differences in the study design or in the diagnostic procedures used.