Send to

Choose Destination
Endocr Pract. 2007 Sep;13(5):513-20.

Consensus and controversy regarding osteoporosis in the pediatric population.

Author information

The Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94035-5208, USA.



To review current consensus and controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis in childhood and adolescence.


The medical literature was reviewed with emphasis on the importance of early skeletal health, risk factors for bone fragility, and the diagnosis and management of children at risk for osteoporosis.


Childhood and adolescence are critical periods for optimizing bone growth and mineral accrual. Bone strength is determined by bone size, geometry, quality, and mass-variables that are influenced by genetic factors, activity, nutrition, and hormones. For children with genetic skeletal disorders or chronic disease, bone growth and mineral accrual may be compromised, increasing the lifetime risk of osteoporosis. The goal for the clinician is to identify children at greatest risk for future fragility fracture. Bone densitometry and turnover markers are challenging to interpret in children. Prevention and treatment of bone fragility in children are less well established than in adults. Optimizing nutrition and activity may not restore bone health, but the drug armamentarium is limited. Sex steroid replacement has not proven effective in restoring bone mass in patients with anorexia nervosa or exercise-associated amenorrhea. Bisphosphonates can increase bone mass and may reduce bone pain and fractures, most convincingly in patients with osteogenesis imperfecta. Further studies are needed to establish the safety, efficacy, and optimal drug, duration, and dosage in pediatric patients.


Bone health during the first 2 decades contributes to the lifetime risk of osteoporosis. Further research is needed to develop evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis in childhood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Allen Press, Inc.
Loading ...
Support Center