How many children remain fracture-free during growth? a longitudinal study of children and adolescents participating in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study

Osteoporos Int. 2002 Dec;13(12):990-5. doi: 10.1007/s001980200137.


While much is known regarding the incidence and pattern of fractures during growth, information is sparse as to how many children fracture repeatedly and how many remain fracture-free during growth. The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, a birth cohort, whose members were questioned regularly throughout growth (at ages 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 18 years) concerning injuries including fractures, has provided a unique opportunity to answer these questions. Life-table analysis showed that approximately half the children remained fracture-free throughout growth [girls 60.1%, (95% CI 54.7-65.0) and boys 49.3% (95% CI 44.0-54.4)]. Data on fracture history, for participants seen at every phase, was available for 601 members through to the age of 18 years (61.1% of the cohort seen at age 5 years). Two hundred and ninety-one of these 601 participants reported 498 fractures, with 172 sustaining a single fracture, and 119 more than one fracture (15.8% girls and 23.4% boys). The most common site of fracture was the wrist/forearm (24.1% of all fractures). We conclude that although bone fractures are a common adverse event in childhood, half of all children remain fracture-free throughout growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / pathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Tables
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Multiple Trauma / epidemiology
  • New Zealand / epidemiology