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Arthritis, Autoimmune Diseases

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is home to Iowa’s only pediatric rheumatologists—doctors with the training, expertise, and experience to treat children and young adults with rheumatic diseases.

Rheumatic diseases refer to a wide range of disorders that, in general, affect the joints, muscles, spine, and skin. These diseases may present with pain, swelling, morning stiffness, fever, or rash. Pediatric rheumatic diseases result from uncontrolled inflammation, during which the body’s immune system attacks or hurts its own healthy cells and tissues. Examples include:

  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly known as lupus or SLE)
  • Scleroderma (“hard skin”)
  • Dermatomyositis (muscle inflammation)
  • Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels)
  • Autoinflammatory syndromes, including periodic fever syndromes and chronic non-infectious osteomyelitis (bone infection)

Our doctors, nurses, and medical staff understand that pediatric rheumatic diseases are chronic, complex disorders that can severely affect a child’s growth, development, and quality of life. Early and proper diagnosis is key to treating symptoms and managing the disease.

Trust—from our young patients and their parents—is important. We work with our families’ referring pediatricians, and we collaborate with other UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital specialists, therapists, and other staff as needed—drawing on the research, technology, and expertise available at one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals. We strive to make sure that families are comfortable, informed, and confident about the care their child receives.

Support Groups

Pediatric Rheumatology Support Group

Pediatric rheumatology patients and families support group will help patients and families connect with one another while offering education, social events, and a community event to help raise awareness about pediatric rheumatic disease.

Patient Stories

  • Charlotte Keller

    Charlotte Keller, portrait At 3 years old, Charlotte began experiencing severe leg pain. Tests eventually led to a diagnosis of chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO), an inflammatory bone disease. By that time, Charlotte’s quality of life was very low, and she was referred to the pediatric rheumatology team at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.Read more
  • Colorado girl finds treatment she needs at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital

    Madison Villaverde, photo When Madison Villaverde was diagnosed with chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO) in the third grade, her mother, Robin Villaverde, took to the Internet to research the rare disorder and search for support groups.Read more
  • Gwen White

    Gwen White, portrait Gwen had been sick and weak for several weeks and had developed a rash in May 2017. She had seen several doctors but did not get a diagnosis until her dermatologist took a biopsy of the rash. Gwen was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, a rare autoimmune disease that affects three in every 1 million children each year. In juvenile dermatomyositis, the immune system attacks blood vessels throughout the body, causing muscle inflammation. This can cause exhaustion from everyday activities like walking up stairs or lifting a backpack.Read more
  • Abigail Hooper

    Abigail Hooper portrait Abby Hooper is a sweet and energetic teenager who loves to cook for her family, work in the garden, and play sports. You’d never know from looking at her that she’s battling a chronic disease.Read more
  • Margaret Schafer

    Margaret Schafer portrait When Margaret was 11 years old, she started experiencing severe pain in her legs, hips, and shoulders – pain that made it difficult to get dressed or get on and off the school bus. Her local physician thought she might be having growing pains but the pain kept getting worse. In the spring of 2012, a pain specialist in Cedar Falls referred Margaret to a rheumatologist at UI Stead Family Children's Hospital.Read more

Locations and Contact

  • UI Stead Family Children's Hospital
    2400 Colloton Pavilion
    200 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    In House Directions: UI Stead Family Children's Hospital public elevator, Level 2
    • Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • 1-855-543-2884 (855 KID AT UI)
    • 1-319-356-1616 (Emergency)