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Pediatric Rheumatic Disease Mortality Rate Improving

Rates for related diseases lower than previously reported

THURSDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The overall and disease-specific mortality rates for pediatric rheumatic disease patients have improved compared with the findings of earlier research, according to a report in the February issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Philip J. Hashkes, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues analyzed data from the Indianapolis Pediatric Rheumatology Disease Registry on 49,023 patients treated at 62 centers.

Out of 48,885 patients without malignancy, there were 110 deaths, the data revealed. The cohort's standardized mortality rate was significantly lower than the rate reported in previous research, the researchers found. There was an association between mortality and age at diagnosis, sex, and early use of systemic steroids and methotrexate. While the cause of death for 39 patients was rheumatic diagnosis and associated complications, the authors note that 11 died due to treatment complications, 25 due to non-natural causes, and 23 as a result of background disease.

"One possible cause of the increased survival in the present study compared with previous studies may be the improved treatment that was introduced in the 1990s," Hashkes said in a statement. "Since the information in the Pediatric Rheumatology Disease Registry was limited, we could not explore in depth for risk factors or early predictors of mortality. This and continued follow-up of this cohort for mortality trends should be investigated in future studies."

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