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Keywords:

  • wrist fractures;
  • risk factors;
  • overweight;
  • milk symptoms;
  • DXA

Abstract

DXA measurements in 90 children and adolescents with repeated forearm fractures showed reduced ultradistal radius BMC and BMD values and elevated adiposity, suggesting site-specific bone weakness and high body weight increase fracture risk. Symptoms to cow milk, low calcium intakes, early age of first fracture, and overweight were over-represented in the sample.

Introduction: Although many apparently healthy children fracture their forearms repeatedly during growth, no previous studies of their bone health and body composition have been undertaken. Nor has the prevalence of established risk factors for fracture in such a population been assessed.

Materials and Methods: Ninety children and adolescents (47 girls and 43 boys) 5–19 years of age, who had experienced at least two fractures of the forearm, were studied. Bone size and mineralization were assessed using DXA at the ultradistal radius, one-third radius, neck of femur, hip trochanter, lumbar spine, and total body. Total body lean mass and fat mass were also determined. The prevalence of six risk factors for fracture were also examined, and their influence on ultradistal BMC Z scores was assessed.

Results: Participants experienced 295 fractures (74.9% forearm). Children with an early age of first fracture had higher rates of fracture per l00 years of exposure than those fracturing later. Four risk factors for fracture were over-represented in observed versus expected percentages: early age of first fracture (27.7% versus 11.3%), adverse symptoms to cow milk (22.2% versus 6.7%), low dietary calcium intake (20% versus 4.5%), and overweight (33.3% versus 15.5%). However, physical activity levels were similar to the reference population. Z scores for BMC and BMD were reduced, particularly at the ultradistal radius, whereas Z scores for weight, body mass index, fat mass, and body fat percentage were increased. Mean (SD) BMC Z scores were lowest at the ultradistal radius, −0.66 (1.22), where symptoms to milk were associated with reduced values (p < 0.009) and overweight with increased values (p < 0.003).

Conclusions: Our results suggest site-specific weakness and high body weight contribute to fracture risk in children and adolescents who fracture their forearms repeatedly. These findings are consonant with work showing adult Colles fractures increase as ultradistal radius BMD falls and with evidence that overweight children and adolescents are fracture prone.