Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Osteoporosis among Children: 9 Facts You Should Know

The skeleton makes up around 20 percent of our total body weight. It consists of 4 different types of bones:-

-         The long bones of the limbs
-         Short bones of the hands and feet
-         Flat bones of the skull
-         Irregular bones of the knee caps and spinal column.

Amazingly, we are born with all the bones we need for our entire lives – approximately 300 in all. Between 13 and 18 years of age our softer bones fuse into bigger ones, so that by adulthood the bone count drops to 206. Here’s the fact you as the parent should take note to help your children get enough calcium since it helps to build strong bones and can delay osteoporosis symptoms.

1. The amount of calcium needed by individuals each day varies by age. Children ages 1 to 3 years old need 500 mg. Those 4 to 8 need 800 mg. Children during the peak growing years of 9 to 18 need 1,300 mg. Adults from age 50 to 65 need 1,200 mg daily. Men and women over 65 years of age need 1,500 mg daily.

2. Calcium is found in a number of different foods. However, the most efficient way to obtain calcium is through eating dairy products. An 8-oz. glass of milk has approximately 300 mg of calcium so a serving for each meal along with a few servings of other calcium-containing foods, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green leafy vegetables, oranges or calcium-fortified bread and cereals, will likely be enough to meet these daily requirements.
3. Calcium is an essential nutrient for bone health. In fact, calcium deficiencies in young people can account for a 5-10 percent lower peak bone mass and may increase the risk for bone fracture in later life. A well-balanced diet including adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D is also important for bone health.
4. Dentists may now be able to detect more than just tooth decay on dental x rays. British researchers have developed computer software that checks images of the lower jaw for early signs of the osteoporosis. “The technique uses x-rays already taken for dental reasons, so it’s something for nothing”, says software designer Keith Horner, a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Manchester. The software is not a replacement for DXA (dual-energy X ray absorptiometry)-the gold standard for diagnosing osteoporosis- but sounds an alarm. Many women don’t find out they have osteoporosis until it is too late.

5. Soft drinks tend to displace calcium-rich beverages in the diets of many children and adolescents. In fact, research has shown that girls who drink soft drinks consume much less calcium than those who do not.

6. It's important for your daughter to know that good sources of calcium don't have to be fattening. Skim milk, low-fat cheeses and yogurt, calcium-fortified juices and cereals, and green leafy vegetables can all fit easily into a healthy, low-fat diet. Replacing even one soda each day with milk or a milk-based fruit smoothie can significantly increase her calcium intake.
7. Kids with juvenile arthritis need to take special care of their bones, making sure to get enough calcium and weight-bearing exercise. Some health care providers recommend extra calcium each day: between 1,000 and 1,500 mg. Talk to your child's doctor for more information about protecting his bones while he is taking these medications.
8. Osteoporosis is rare among children and adolescents. When it occurs, it is usually caused by an underlying medical disorder or by medications used to treat such disorders. This is called secondary osteoporosis. It may also be the result of a genetic disorder such as osteogenesis imperfecta, in which bones break easily from little or no apparent cause. Sometimes there is no identifiable cause of juvenile osteoporosis. This is known as idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis. Two or more low-impact fractures may be a sign of one of these disorders. If you are concerned about your son's frequent fractures, talk to his doctor for more information.

9. Muscles get stronger when we use them. The same idea applies to bones: the more work they do, the stronger they get. Any kind of physical exercise is great for your kids, but the best ones for their bones are weight-bearing activities like walking, running, hiking, dancing, tennis, basketball, gymnastics, and soccer. (Children who tend to play outside will also have higher vitamin D levels.) Swimming and bicycling promote your kids' general health, but are not weight-bearing exercises and will not help build bone density. Organized sports can be fun and build confidence, but they are not the only way to build healthy bones.

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