Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Osteoporosis Can Even Occur In Childhood

by Hugh Larson

Although osteoporosis—a condition that leads to thin and weakened bones—generally occurs in older women, it can even develop in children. Therefore, if your child has suffered multiple bone fractures or has one or more of the risk factors that can contribute to low bone mass (density), talk to his or her pediatrician about taking a closer look.

Risk Factors

Aside from a lack of weight-bearing exercise and poor nutrition, including vitamin D deficiency which interferes with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, other potential risk factors associated with low bone density and osteoporosis in children include:

  • Obesity—too much fat in the abdomen causes vitamin D to get trapped in fat cells

  • Bowel malabsorption disorder—bowel diseases, such as celiac disease and Crohn's disease, reduce the absorption of nutrients like calcium and vitamin D

  • Anorexia nervosa—an eating disorder that leads a child or adult to starve herself or himself—causes nutrient deficiencies and a decrease in growth hormones

  • Regular use of medications, such as anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, and thyroid replacement therapy, that interfere with bone resorption—a process involved in the cycle of bone growth

  • Thyroid and parathyroid disorders, which can increase how quickly the body loses bone mass

  • Impaired mobility, the result of neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy

Osteogenesis imperfecta—a congenital disorder that causes brittle bones—is another risk factor for osteoporosis. The disorder affects the way the body produces collagen, and less of the protein collagen can cause bones to break easily.

Signs of Low Bone Mass

A history of bone fractures, particularly in the long bones, may signal low bone mass. While a number of bone diseases can cause weakened bones, multiple bone fractures or broken bones that result from minor injuries often are early signs of osteoporosis.

Even frequent joint sprains can be a sign of low bone mineral density. Pain in the back, hips, or legs is often another symptom of osteoporosis in children.

Diagnostic Testing for Low Bone Density

To begin, your child's doctor may order laboratory testing to measure vitamin D and calcium serum levels, deficiencies of which can lead to low bone density. He or she may also test for elevated levels of thyroid and parathyroid hormones, which are hormones that help regulate calcium absorption in the body.

If your child has any of the medication- or disease-related risk factors for osteoporosis, a doctor may order an imaging study called a DEXA scan to measure bone density. The test will look at your child's spine and then compare the image to the average bone mass density value of healthy children who are the same age, gender, and level of skeletal growth.

Bones grow in size and strength throughout the childhood and adolescent years. Therefore, if your child shows concerning signs, diagnostic testing that detects pediatric osteoporosis and leads to treatment can contribute to his or her normal growth and development. For more information, contact companies like Sarasota Arthritis Center.


About Me

Good Healthcare Requires Treatment of Your Mind, Body, and Soul

I have worked in a supportive role in the medical industry for over 20 years, and I have been amazed at the advances in medicine that have been made. While it is always great to hear about a new medication that helps cure a disease or a new surgical procedure that can help someone live a normal life again after an injury, I have been especially amazed at the research that has shown just how much our physical and mental health are connected. Since I keep on top of all of the amazing medical studies being performed and I know others are too busy to hunt them down themselves, I decided to start a blog to share my favorite health tips for keeping both your mind and body healthy.