By Dr Naadir Bismilla
Osteoporosis causes bones to be fragile, which results in them breaking easily. The disease is more common in older people and not so often in children. However, there are cases where osteoporosis is diagnosed in children and teenagers.
Bones are one of the essential parts of our bodies; as we grow so do our bones. As they grow and rebuild, they help develop strong skeletal structure that enable our bodies to ride a bike or walk. However, when children do not build enough bone density they suffer from a condition called juvenile osteoporosis. It is a rare condition that take places during the child’s prime bone-building years, which is a critical time where they accumulate bone mass.
Types of juvenile osteoporosis
Juvenile osteoporosis can be categorized into two types: Secondary and Idiopathic.
Secondary osteoporosis is caused by another or underlying medical condition such as juvenile arthritis, Diabetes, Leukemia or medication such as steroids and chemotherapy. This type of osteoporosis diseases is much more common.
Idiopathic osteoporosis: the causes are unknown for this type of osteoporosis. It usually occurs just before puberty, and it is a lot less common amongst children.
Juvenile osteoporosis is often known as a silent condition because its symptoms are not obvious until a bone breaks, typically fractures in the ankles, feet and legs. Patients also experience pain in their feet, ankles, hips and lower back, which results in trouble walking.
After a doctor makes a diagnosis and gives recommendations, the child needs to make some lifestyle changes that will help with their bone health. They might need to start a diet that is rich in protein, calcium and vitamin D to help strengthen their bones. Such vitamins can be found in dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese. They might also need to do only safe physical activities and avoid contact sports that cause fractures.
If it is caused by an underlying condition, doctors will treat it with medication or change the medication to something that will help.
Juvenile osteoporosis is often diagnosed after the child has a bad fall or a trauma incident that breaks their fragile bones. Diagnosing osteoporosis onset is a bit challenging when it comes to children because it occurs when they are still in their bone mass building years.
We need to keep in mind that bones help protect our vital organs and also provide our bodies with a skeletal structure that enables us to do our everyday activities. Although osteoporosis may be common in adults, it is also important that you pay attention to your child’s bone health to ensure that they are not affected.