Anna Neu is 8 years old and holds a title she’d rather not have – the youngest person ever diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t plagued by pain in her spine and hips, the telltale sign of her disease. Diagnosed as a toddler, Anna has good days and bad, but often, she’s sidelined by a form of arthritis most people don’t even realize affects children.
“Anna started complaining of bugs biting her back and waking up screaming in the middle of the night when she was just 2 years old,” says her mom, Emily. “She would stop and sit when the family was out for a walk around the block and say, ‘I have no more runs left’ or ‘my engine ran out.’”
Despite the pain, she’s a brave girl, working hard to help doctors learn more about her disease and how to best treat it. A regular study participant at the National Institutes of Health, Anna is hoping she will help researchers find better treatments, and one day a cure, for AS.
Continue reading Anna Neu: Fighting for Childhood