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Osteoporos Int. 2015 Mar;26(3):1163-74. doi: 10.1007/s00198-014-2994-9. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

Deficits in distal radius bone strength, density and microstructure are associated with forearm fractures in girls: an HR-pQCT study.

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Department of Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia, 3114-910 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 1M9, Canada.


Forearm fractures are common during growth. We studied bone strength in youth with a recent forearm fracture. In girls, suboptimal bone strength was associated with fractures. In boys, poor balance and physical inactivity may lead to fractures. Prospective studies will confirm these relationships and identify targets for prevention strategies.


The etiology of pediatric forearm fractures is unclear. Thus, we examined distal radius bone strength, microstructure, and density in children and adolescents with a recent low- or moderate-energy forearm fracture and those without forearm fractures.


We assessed the non-dominant (controls) and non-fractured (cases) distal radius (7% site) using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) (Scanco Medical AG) in 270 participants (girls: cases n = 47, controls n = 61 and boys: cases n = 88, controls n = 74) aged 8-16 years. We assessed standard anthropometry, maturity, body composition (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), Hologic QDR 4500 W) physical activity, and balance. We fit sex-specific logistic regression models for each bone outcome adjusting for maturity, ethnicity, height, and percent body fat.


In girls, impaired bone strength (failure load, ultimate stress) and a high load-to-strength ratio were associated with low-energy fractures (odds ratios (OR) 2.8-4.3). Low total bone mineral density (Tt.BMD), bone volume ratio, trabecular thickness, and cortical BMD and thickness were also associated with low-energy fractures (ORs 2.0-7.0). In boys, low Tt.BMD, but not bone strength, was associated with low-energy fractures (OR = 1.8). Boys with low-energy fractures had poor balance and higher percent body fat compared with controls (p < 0.05). Boys with fractures (both types) were less active than controls (p < 0.05).


Forearm fracture etiology appears to be sex-specific. In girls, deficits in bone strength are associated with fractures. In boys, a combination of poor balance, excess body fat, and low physical activity may lead to fractures. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these relationships and clarify targets for prevention strategies.

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