Osteoporosis: A Pediatric Disease with Geriatric Consequences

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It may surprise you to see the words “osteoporosis” and “pediatric” in the same sentence. Did you know that maximizing bone health in a child’s early years can prevent or delay osteoporosis as they become older? Children and adolescents have a window of opportunity during crucial growth years to maximize their bone strength. What they are doing, or not doing, during those years can have a huge impact later in life. And, there is much that they can be doing to lay the foundation for strong bones.

Peak Bone Mass (PBM) occurs when bones have reached their maximum strength and density. Up to 90% of PBM is actually reached by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys. The more bone in their “bone bank” they are able to acquire during childhood years, the stronger their bones will be later in life. It is estimated that a 10% increase in PBM will delay the onset of osteoporosis by 13 years. How is that for an investment in your child’s healthy future?
So, to help the children in your life build better bones, consider the following:
1. Speak to their Doctor about the amount of daily Calcium and Vitamin D they should be getting. They may need to consult with a Dietician if they have dietary needs.
2. Help them to be involved in regular exercise, including weight bearing exercise. Walking, skipping and hiking are weight-bearing activities. Sports such as soccer, basketball, tennis and other racquet sports offer great (and fun!) weight bearingactivities. These sports are especially important because the quick changes in direction help to build stronger bones.
3. Speak to a Physiotherapist about an individualized exercise program if they have specific conditions that need to be considered in their exercise program.
4. Model a bone healthy lifestyle yourself! Bones are for life and it is important that everyone from infancy to childhood, and from young adulthood to older adulthood, is looking after their bones. It is never too early, or too late, to build better bones!

Written by Registered Physiotherapist Bonny O’Hare; Director of Pro Motion Physiotherapy and Founder of Osteo-Circuit.