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Let’s begin the prevention of osteoporosis early in life

Posted:  Monday, October 06, 2014

Osteoporosis has always been considered as a feature of aging, however, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), its roots may lie in childhood and adolescence.

In the report, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers reviewed the rate of bone mass acquisition in infancy, childhood and adolescence. They researchers found that attaining substantial bone mass during childhood could be the most important modifiable factor of lifelong skeletal health.

Although bone mineral deposition begins in pregnancy, a 40 fold increase in BMC is observed from birth to adulthood, finally peaking near the end of the second decade of life. Genetic factors play a major role in BMC variance, but modifiable factors like nutrition and physical activity also play a pivotal role in influencing bone health. The researchers found that childhood milk consumption was linked with higher bone mineral content (BMC) and lower risk of fractures.

Elaborating further, the researchers state that the main source of calcium after the first year of an infant’s life is from milk and dairy products. Thus, dairy sources make up for 70-80% of nutritional calcium requirements.

The AAP researchers have outlined the following strategies which can be used in professional practice to help improve children’s bone health. They are:

•  Emphasise on dietary intake of calcium rather than external supplementation in healthy children.

•  Increase the daily consumption of foods and beverages which include low fat milk and low fat yoghurts containing calcium and vitamin D.

•  Regularly screening children and adolescents with recurring fractures or specific medical condition for vitamin D deficiency

•  Recommending weight bearing activities like walking, dancing and running which can help increase their bone mass.

Osteoporosis is a debilitating and insidious condition which causes multiple complication. Ensuring a balance of nutrition and physical activity in childhood is all that is needed to optimize bone mass and prevent osteoporosis later in life.

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