What You Should Know About Your Child’s Bone Health
Parents should be aware of what osteoporosis is and why it concerns their children. There are steps you can take while they are young to protect children from getting osteoporosis later in life.
Osteoporosis is a disease that gradually weakens bones until they break easily, sometimes after little or no injury. The bones most likely to be affected are the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because there are usually no symptoms of the disease until a bone breaks. Everyone is susceptible to osteoporosis, but the following risk factors influence the chances of getting it:
- Gender—Women are more likely to get osteoporosis than men. This is because women's bones are naturally lighter and thinner. Women also experience increased bone loss after menopause.
- Age—The risk of osteoporosis increases with age.
- Genetics—People with a first-degree relative—a parent or sibling—with osteoporosis are at increased risk.
- Frame size—Small-boned, thin people have a higher risk.
- Ethnicity—White and Asian people are at higher risk.
- Diet—Consuming enough calcium and vitamin D can help build and maintain strong, healthy bones.
- Exercise—Physical activity, especially weight-bearing activity, helps keep bones strong.
- Smoking—Smoking can increase the chance of getting osteoporosis.
- Alcohol—Drinking alcohol can reduce bone density, leading to osteoporosis.
Though it is impossible to modify most of these risk factors, some—particularly diet and exercise—are within your control.
Last reviewedMay 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.