Juvenile osteoporosis is the condition that makes bones in children weak and lose their strength. As a result, children especially in the age group of 8-14 years are prone to break or fracture their bones more easily. Although sometimes the children of younger age groups may develop it too.
In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr Vasudeva Juvvadi, Consultant Orthopedic Knee Surgeon, Citizens Specialty Hospital, Hyderabad shares in detail what juvenile osteoporosis is and about its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Here is what he shared with us.
Once thought to afflict adults and elderly patients, in recent years, osteoporosis has been recognized as a pediatric problem as well. According to the definition set by the World Health Organization (WHO), osteoporosis is defined as a systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass and constant deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fractures.
Types of juvenile osteoporosis
The two common types of juvenile osteoporosis include:
1. Secondary Osteoporosis
Juvenile osteoporosis is usually caused by underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, certain medications such as some types of cancer treatment, poor diet or sedentary lifestyle. Besides, children who are bedridden or have prolonged periods of immobility are also at increased risk of juvenile osteoporosis.
2. Idiopathic Osteoporosis
This type of juvenile osteoporosis is a condition when doctors don’t know what caused the disease. Idiopathic osteoporosis is more common in boys than in girls.
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Signs and Symptoms of Juvenile Osteoporosis
Some of the common symptoms of juvenile osteoporosis include pain in the lower back, hips, knees, ankles and feet, trouble with walking and fractures in the legs, ankles, or feet.
Diagnosis of juvenile osteoporosis
Diagnosis of juvenile osteoporosis is challenging since the bone mineral density (BMD) in younger children is especially affected by growth and development. It is usually not diagnosed until a child fractures a bone. The diagnosis may include:
- medical history
- physical examination
- Bone scan – Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is the most commonly used method for evaluating bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC).
- Blood tests
Treatment of juvenile osteoporosis
In most cases, juvenile osteoporosis can be treated. The treatment depends on the cause of your child’s juvenile osteoporosis and may include:
- Diagnosing and treating an underlying medical condition
- Encouraging children to take part in a regular exercise. They should be encouraged to participate in various sports activities, preferably during the day. In addition to physical education classes in school, parents should consider enrolling their children in sports academies.
- Increasing calcium in the diet by including dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, leafy green vegetables, tofu, nuts, etc. Minimum calcium requirement for children between 1 and 18 years of age is 600 – 800 mg for optimal bone health.
- Adequate vitamin D: Sun is the best source of Vitamin D in children. They usually benefit from 10-30 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight, daily.
- Medication/Supplements to encourage bone strength
That said, owing to recent advances in medicines and surgical treatment, bone conditions in children such as Brittle Bone disease can also be treated successfully. For better outcome, early diagnosis and treatment is crucial in treating such cases of juvenile osteoporosis. Multidisciplinary teams of professionals usually work together for the integrated management of bone conditions in children. Besides, the need for supplements for both calcium and vitamin D should be assessed and addressed in all children, especially those at risk of osteoporosis.