"My baby had arthritis when he was 3 months old”

From a swollen ankle and a fever, this baby boy was later diagnosed with having juvenile arthritis…


“My son Khalish Bin Khairul is 4 and a half years old. He’s my only child, and is an energetic and cheerful boy who loves swimming and cycling.

Khalish had a normal and healthy birth. But when he was 3 months old, I noticed that his right ankle was swollen and he had a fever. He was also crying a lot. Because he was just a baby, he was unable to verbalise or express his pain.

So, we brought him to the pediatrician. He was initially diagnosed with having an insect bite – and he was prescribed some lotion to reduce the swelling.


However, when he didn’t get better, we decided to bring him to an infant masseuse to check if his ankle was sprained. Hopefully, he would find some relief there. But after the massage, we were also told that there were no issues with his ankle.

Gradually, we noticed that Khalish was unwilling and unable to straighten both his legs, as the inflammation had also started to affect his knees. His fever had also worsened and he had developed a rash.

We decided to go to a chiropractor. On the second visit, the therapist recommended we visit a pediatrician at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. It was there that Khalish was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis and I was referred to a doctor at the National University Hospital. 

I thought arthritis was condition that only affected adults and the elderly.

At this point in time, I had never heard of the condition Junvenile Idiopathic Arthritis before. It’s an autoimmune, non-infective, inflammatory joint disease. My friends and family were also unaware of such an illness. 

When I was given the diagnosis, I was extremely tired and in a state of disbelief. I thought arthritis was a condition that only affected adults and the elderly.

When he was around 6 months old, Khalish had to go through blood tests, urine tests, x-rays and an MRI at NUH. As a child, he had to be sedated to keep him still for the MRI scan and the sedation was considered risky for an infant of his age.

From the MRI results, it was found that his shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and ankle were all inflamed. He had to undergo a minor surgery - an incision at his right ankle to extract some tissue for a biopsy. He also had an incision at his groin to extract lymph nodes for testing.