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Abstract

Objective

To compare the incidence of hospitalized bacterial infections among children with and children without juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and to examine the effects of selected medications.

Methods

Using national Medicaid data from 2000 through 2005, we identified a cohort of children with JIA and a comparator cohort of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Exposures to methotrexate (MTX), TNF inhibitors, and oral glucocorticoids (GCs) were determined using pharmacy claims. Patients hospitalized with bacterial infections were identified using coded discharge diagnoses. We calculated adjusted hazard ratios (HRadj) to compare infection incidence rates while adjusting for relevant covariates.

Results

We identified 8,479 JIA patients with 13,003 person-years of followup; 36% took MTX and 16% took TNF inhibitors. Compared with ADHD patients, JIA patients who were not currently taking MTX or TNF inhibitors had an increased rate of infection (HRadj 2.0 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.5, 2.5]). Among JIA patients not receiving TNF inhibitor therapy, MTX users had a similar rate of infection as those not currently taking MTX (HRadj 1.2 [95% CI 0.9, 1.7]). TNF inhibitor use (irrespective of MTX) resulted in a similar rate of infection as use of MTX without a TNF inhibitor (HRadj 1.2 [95% CI 0.8, 1.8]). Use of high-dose GCs (≥10 mg/day of prednisone or equivalent) increased the rate of infection as compared with no GC use, after adjustment for MTX and TNF inhibitor use (HRadj 3.1 [95% CI 2.0, 4.7]).

Conclusion

Children with JIA had an increased rate of infection compared to children with ADHD. Among children with JIA, the rate of infection was not increased with MTX or TNF inhibitor use, but was significantly increased with high-dose GC use.