Osteoporosis in children and adolescents

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In recent years, the issue of low bone density in children and adolescents has attracted much attention. The classical definition of osteoporosis should be valid at any age, yet its practical applicability to children and adolescents remains a matter of debate and there is no consensus on a diagnosis based solely on the BMD value. The clinical relevance of uncomplicated low bone density in the young and its long-term consequences remain difficult to evaluate and there is only preliminary evidence that the BMD value is a predictor of fracture risk in growing subjects. Moreover, the interpretation of densitometric data in the young is difficult because the "normal" BMD values to be used for comparison are continuously changing with age, and in addition, depend on several variables, such as gender, body size, pubertal stage, skeletal maturation and ethnicity. Although Z-score values below - 2 are generally considered a serious warning, most bone specialists make a diagnosis of osteoporosis in children and adolescents only in the presence of low BMD and at least one fragility fracture. The scope of this review is limited to presenting a picture of the available knowledge. The literature on fractures will be presented in detail, since fractures are one of the key elements in the debate. There are countless papers on fractures in childhood and adolescence, but very few of them attempt to identify fragility fractures, and still fewer develop the concept of osteoporosis in the young in relation to fractures. The different forms of primary and secondary osteoporosis, the more technical aspects of bone densitometry in pediatrics, and the delicate issue of treatment will be discussed only briefly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-495
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • Adolescents
  • Bone density
  • Children
  • Fractures
  • Osteoporosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hematology


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