[Digital computerized absorptiometry in the diagnosis of osteoporosis in a group of the severely mentally retarded]

Nutr Hosp. 2002 Jul-Aug;17(4):213-8.
[Article in Spanish]


Background: The loss of bone mass after a certain age is a physiological fact that, in certain circumstances, is capable of inducing osteoporosis. In the diagnostic strategies for this condition, densitometry is a well-accepted technique now widely used. On patients with severe mental retardation, a number of circumstances come into play and may foster a greater frequency of osteoporosis. GOAL AND SCOPE OF STUDY: The goal of the study is to identify the bone mineral density values in a group of severe mentally retarded individuals using a digital densitometry technique in order to compare these with the general population and investigate the possible influence on these values of certain clinical variables and therapeutic regimens.

Volunteers: One hundred and ninety-two patients of both sexes and treated at an institution devoted to the study and care of severely mentally retarded individuals.

Actions taken: In all cases, the bone mineral density value has been obtained by means of digital densitometry using a compact desktop system using dual X-ray absorption measurement technology The data obtained have been contrasted with sex, age, degree of mobility and anti-epilepsy or sedative medication.

Results: In the population under study, the bone mineral density is significantly lower than that of the general population: 25% present osteopenia and 22% osteoporosis. These results are associated with the fact that they move little and are regularly taking phenobarbital medication. The population with Down's syndrome is also seen to be a group at risk.

Conclusions: Osteoporosis is frequent among severe mentally retarded patients. The greatest risk is associated with insufficient mobility, Down's syndrome and regular medication with phenobarbital. Digital densitometry is a simple procedure that may be useful to identify the true dimension of this problem and the efficacy of the various preventive or curative procedures put forward.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / instrumentation
  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / diagnosis
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / epidemiology
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / etiology
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Diagnosis-Related Groups
  • Disabled Persons
  • Down Syndrome / complications
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Institutionalization
  • Intellectual Disability / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Phenobarbital / adverse effects
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Phenobarbital