Weak Bones in Children

Weak Bones in Children

Unhealthy lifestyles that are lacking in exercise and sunshine may put children at risk for bone fractures and bone diseases.

Millions of children in the U.S. are not building bones as strong as they should be, which may leave them vulnerable to fractures, rickets and other bone conditions.  Research conducted at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has resulted in the first bone-growth guide for pediatricians treating children’s bone problems.  Dr. Sheref Unal, assistant professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains the importance of building bone strength.

SOUND BITE:  “Most children build up their bone strength when they are adolescents by drinking milk and exercise.   But if they don’t achieve good bone strength now, it can lead to things like osteoporosis or brittle bones later in life, especially in females.”

Dr. Unal says weak bones in children can be caused by lack of exposure to Vitamin D, which children receive when they are outside in the sunshine.  Other factors include lack of calcium intake, sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise.   He explains some treatments for weak bone conditions.

SOUND BITE:  “Rickets, which again is just kind of a Vitamin D deficiency that can cause bowing in weak bones.  And so the treatment for that is to try to replace it with both calcium supplements and vitamin D supplements. Exercise and strength training can also improve bone strength.”

Dr. Unal recommends that parents make sure their children eat a balanced diet which includes dairy products.  They also should encourage children move away from the television and computer screen and spend more time outside for play and exercise.  If a child has symptoms of a bone condition, they should see their family physician or pediatrician.