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J Bone Miner Res. 2013 Feb;28(2):351-9. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.1743.

Does a childhood fracture predict low bone mass in young adulthood? A 27-year prospective controlled study.

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Clinical and Molecular Osteoporosis Research Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences and Orthopaedics, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, SE-205 02 Malmo, Sweden.


A fracture in childhood is associated with low bone mineral density (BMD), but it is debated whether a fracture at growth also predicts low BMD in young adulthood. The purpose of this work was to gender-specifically evaluate whether children with a fracture are at increased risk of low BMD in young adulthood. Distal forearm BMD (g/cm2) was measured with single-photon absorptiometry (SPA) in 47 boys and 26 girls (mean age 10 years, range 3-16 years) with an index fracture and in 41 boys and 43 girls (mean age 10 years, range 4-16 years) with no fracture. BMD was re-measured mean 27 years later with the same SPA apparatus and with dual-energy absorptiometry (DXA), quantitative ultrasound (QUS), and peripheral computed tomography (pQCT). Individual Z-scores were calculated using the control cohort as reference population. Data are presented as means with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) within brackets and correlation with Pearson's correlation coefficient. Boys with an index fracture had at fracture event a distal forearm BMD Z-score of -0.4 (95% CI, -0.7 to -0.1) and at follow-up -0.4 (95% CI, -0.7 to -0.1). Corresponding values in girls were -0.2 (95% CI, -0.5 to 0.1) and -0.3 (95% CI, -0.7 to 0.1). The deficit in absolute bone mass was driven by men with index fractures in childhood due to low energy rather than moderate or high energy. There were no changes in BMD Z-score during the follow-up period. The BMD deficit at follow-up was in boys with an index fracture verified with all advocated techniques. A childhood fracture in men was associated with low BMD and smaller bone size in young adulthood whereas the deficit in women did not reach statistical significance.

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