Waterford mom on quest to raise awareness of juvenile arthritis

July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. Although you typically can’t see it, more than 300,000 children in the United States live with the debilitating and painful disease.

That includes Jamie St. Martin’s 3-year-old daughter, Ava.

It all started in March 2021, when Ava, one of her five children, woke up one morning with a very swollen knee and couldn’t walk.

Ava saw a pediatrician and then an orthopedist. When they didn’t find anything, they eventually did blood work.

Ava was then diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease.

Jamie says Ava got better, but as soon as the treatment stopped, the swelling started again.

After more blood work and testing, Ava was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in January 2022.
Juvenile arthritis can cause permanent physical damage to joints, which can make it hard to do everyday things like walking or getting dressed.

Just like any other kid, Ava goes to school every day, and she loves participating in fun activities, like gymnastics.

However, activities such as playing outside are not always an option for Ava.
The treatments are the same for kids and adults, although the dosages may vary.

Only 25% of children with juvenile arthritis currently have access to a pediatric rheumatologist. There is no cure and no prevention. That’s why detecting symptoms early is so important.

It’s also a big reason why St. Martin is educating others and raising awareness.

Learn more about how by watching the video of Caitlin Irlas story.