Expert Q&A: Does My Child with JA Need to Wear a Medical ID Bracelet?

It depends on which juvenile arthritis medications your child takes and the situation.

Question: My child takes so many medications because of her JA. Do you think she should wear a medical ID bracelet?

Answer: It is very important to know the names, dosages and possible side effects of any medication. I don’t require most of my juvenile arthritis (JA) patients to wear medical identifiers; however, I do require my patients to memorize the names of their medications, and I test children and adults at every visit. I would recommend a bracelet for a patient who needs to take steroid medications for an extended period of time. These medications suppress the patient’s natural ability to release stress steroids in response to an emergency. In the case of an emergency like shock, medical staff will need to administer stress dose steroids urgently.

I also recommend wearing a medallion if patients will be travelling without their families or doing activities where they have a higher risk of exposure to infection or injury- such as a visit to a rural third world country or going off-trail skiing with friends.

If your child has a medical emergency, you (or your child) should always be able to inform your child’s physicians, regardless if your child medical identifier.

Lisa Imundo, MD
Director of Pediatric Rheumatology
Columbia University Medical Center

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