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What Is Juvenile Osteoporosis? Causes, Symptoms, Complications And Treatments

Osteoporosis is mainly known as a bone disease that is common at an old age or in people who are over 45 years of age. The condition is rare in children and adolescents. However, it does occur during childhood as a result of some underlying medical conditions, known as juvenile osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a progressive condition defined by loss of bone density, insufficient bone formation and weakening of the bones, making them prone to fractures. It is actually a demineralisation of the bones that result in extreme pain and cause difficulty in movement. [1] Juvenile arthritis can be serious as it occurs during the development phase of children.

In this article, we will discuss juvenile osteoporosis and what are its causes, symptoms and other details. Take a look.

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Causes Of Juvenile Osteoporosis

To understand the cause of juvenile osteoporosis, we need to first understand the bones. Our bones tend to grow and repair themselves, making our skeletons strong and supportive. When osteoporosis develops at an old age, the already formed bones start getting demineralised, however, in juvenile osteoporosis, no proper bones are built and the ones that are present start getting weak and brittle and losing strength. [2]

The cause of juvenile osteoporosis is known in some children, while in others it's idiopathic (unknown cause). The most common cause of this childhood bone condition is either another health condition or genetics. In some cases, medications that are used to treat the primary medical condition or behaviours like inadequate physical activities can cause demineralisation of bones and lead to the condition. [3]

Some of the medical conditions may include:

  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Wilson's disease
  • Acquired diseases such as celiac disease and anorexia nervosa
  • Kidney disease
  • Problems related to malabsorption of nutrients.
  • Sickle cell anaemia

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Some medications include:

  • Chemotherapic drugs
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Corticosteroids
  • Anticonvulsants.

Some of the behaviours that can lead to juvenile osteoporosis include:

  • Deficiency of bone nutrients like vitamin D and calcium.
  • Prolonged immobility
  • Vigorous exercising leading to the absence of menstrual periods.

Symptoms Of Juvenile Osteoporosis

Juvenile osteoporosis, if present in children, starts showing symptoms between 2-14 years of life. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Pain in any side of the hips
  • Gradual onset of pain
  • Difficulties in walking
  • Knee, back and feet pain.
  • Multiple fractures
  • Sunken chest
  • Kyphosis or abnormal curvature of the thoracic spine
  • Loss of height

Complications Of Juvenile Osteoporosis

  • Impairments related to the growth of children.
  • Collapse of the spine and rib cage.
  • Frequent breaking of bones.

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Diagnosis Of Juvenile Osteoporosis

Some of the methods for diagnosing juvenile osteoporosis include:

  • Medical history: It includes a history of the patient to analyse whether the cause is genetics or not.
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA): This method is used to evaluate bone mineral content and density. [5]
  • Dual photon absorptiometry (DPA): This method is used to measure bone density, especially in the hips and the spine.
  • Blood tests: This method is carried out to measure the levels of nutrients in the body and detect the deficiency, if present.

Treatments Of Juvenile Osteoporosis

Some of the treatment methods for juvenile osteoporosis include:

  • Supplements: It mainly includes supplementation of calcium and vitamin D. Daily intake of around 1000 mg of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D for children aged 1-18 years can help reduce bone mineralisation. [6]
  • Supportive care: It includes physical therapies, activities that may help prevent the bones from damage and diets to maintain good health of bones.
  • Anabolic bone therapy: It includes medications to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and prevent bone fractures and improve bone mass. [7]

Note: There is no established surgical method for the treatment of juvenile osteoporosis.

How To Manage Juvenile Osteoporosis?

  • Maintain healthy body weight.
  • Increase intake of calcium and vitamin D in the diet.
  • Maintain daily physical activities.
  • Keep in touch with the doctor to understand the side effects of medications taken for underlying diseases.

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To Conclude

Juvenile osteoporosis can have serious impact if left untreated for long. This is why early diagnosis is very important to reduce the severity of the condition and help in the proper growth and development of children.

Is juvenile osteoporosis serious?

Yes, juvenile osteoporosis can be serious as it occurs during the developmental phase of children. It can cause impairments related to the growth of children and may lead to frequent fractures, causing problems with the quality of life.

What causes osteoporosis in a child?

There are many factors responsible for causing osteoporosis in children. It includes genetics, underlying conditions like diabetes mellitus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and Cushing syndrome. Medications used for the treatment of pre-existing conditions may also cause bone loss.

How is juvenile osteoporosis treated?

Juvenile osteoporosis cannot be treated entirely but its symptoms can be managed to a great extent by methods like the usage of vitamin D and calcium supplements, medications to reduce bone mass loss and supportive therapies like good diet and exercise.