Moving from nature to nurture: a systematic review and meta-analysis of environmental factors associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Sarah L N Clarke, Katie S Mageean, Ilaria Maccora, Sean Harrison, Gabriele Simonini, Gemma C Sharp, Caroline L Relton, Athimalaipet V Ramanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: JIA is the most common paediatric rheumatic disease, thought to be influenced by both genetics and the environment. Identifying environmental factors associated with disease risk will improve knowledge of disease mechanism and ultimately benefit patients. This review aimed to collate and synthesise the current evidence of environmental factors associated with JIA.

METHODS: Four databases (MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) were searched from inception to January 2020. Study quality was rated using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Pooled estimates for each environmental factor were generated using a random-effects, inverse-variance method, where possible. The remaining environmental factors were synthesised in narrative form.

RESULTS: This review includes 66 environmental factors from 39 studies (11 cohort and 28 case-control studies) over 45 years. Study sample sizes ranged from 41 to 1.9 million participants. Eight environmental factors from ten studies were meta-analysed. Caesarean section delivery was associated with increased JIA risk (pooled OR 1.11, 95% CI: 1.01-1.22). Conversely, presence (vs absence) of siblings (pooled OR 0.60, 95% CI: 0.44-0.81) and maternal prenatal smoking (pooled OR 0.70, 95% CI: 0.58-0.84) were associated with decreased JIA risk.

CONCLUSION: This review identifies several environmental factors associated with JIA and demonstrates the huge breadth of environmental research undertaken over five decades. We also highlight the challenges of combining data collected over this period due to limited between study comparability, evolution in healthcare and social practices, and changing environment, which warrant consideration when planning future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date11 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology.


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