Kristiina Aalto

Extensive network of researchers in pediatric rheumatism

Kristiina Aalto
HUS, Lasten ja nuorten sairaudet

Docent Kristiina Aalto is in charge of an extensive research project focusing on the various areas of pediatric rheumatology, monitoring the effectiveness of medication, quality issues, patient experiences as well as clinical and register studies.

The research focuses on the development of treatment strategies, the assessment of the impact of treatment as well as networking internationally with other hospitals, clinics and specialities. The prognosis of pediatric rheumatism is examined in conjunction with the Rheumatology Clinic for adults.

The research group also examines the advantages and disadvantages of biological medication as well as the fluency of the process of transferring pediatric rheumatology patients on their way to becoming adult patients.

– Our long-term studies have indicated that pediatric rheumatism causes a significant disease burden. Many pediatric rheumatology patients also suffer from chronic inflammation, a decreased functional capacity and some level of disability in adulthood. Our aim is to update this information, Kristiina Aalto explains.

The long-term monitoring of pediatric rheumatism began at the end of the 1990s with the studies made by Visa Honkanen and Pekka Lahdenne. The research is continued by Kristiina Aalto and Suvi Peltoniemi.

Importance of long-term monitoring

The purpose of long-term monitoring (BART study) is to examine how the prognosis of the disease correlates with the onset age of the disease and other features at the early stages of the disease. The study examines training, employment, support received from society, potential physiotherapy and quality of life. The BART study has also produced the largest amount of research results.

In Finland, the Department of Eye Diseases (research on iritis), the Triangle Hospital (transition study), the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases (the jaw joint project) and gastroenterologists (intestinal disorders) are involved in the joint Nordic BART study.

The pediatric rheumatism research group considers it important to be able to extensively use the national pediatric rheumatism register, for instance for the assessment of biological medicinal products. The project involves all university hospitals and most central hospitals.

The aim is to create a disease-specific quality register in conjunction with the Rheumatology Clinic for adults and to include in it data from the registers of the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland and the HILMO Care Register for Health Care. In the future, biobank may also be used in it.

Rehabilitation needs for pediatric rheumatology patients

The collaborative study of the Orton Foundation, the Triangle Hospital and HUS’s Children’s Hospital assesses the transfer of pediatric rheumatology patients to the adult ward by mapping out features such as the impact of medication, disability or incapacity for work.

As for the SANDRA study, it monitors the well-being of the patients and the implementation of treatment by means of mobile phones.

The JADAS multicentre study examines the disease activity of pediatric rheumatism. The aim is to turn the disease activity indicator into a tool which can be used easily for purposes such as considering the adequacy of medication. There are also ongoing studies on the use of biological medicinal products in the treatment of pediatric rheumatism.

Results on all studies have been published in international medical publications (PuBMed) in international congresses for pediatric rheumatology and rheumatology.

Contact details

Kristiina Aalto
Helsinki University Hospital Children and Adolescents