Prevalence of vertebral fractures in children with chronic rheumatic diseases at risk for osteopenia

J Pediatr. 2009 Mar;154(3):438-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2008.09.023. Epub 2008 Oct 31.


Objectives: To determine the prevalence of and the risk factors for vertebral fractures in a cohort of children with chronic rheumatic diseases considered at risk for osteopenia.

Study design: We conducted a cross-sectional study of patients with chronic rheumatic diseases at the Montreal Children's Hospital.

Results: Of the 90 study participants (22 boys, 68 girls), 10 boys and 7 girls (19%) were found to have vertebral fractures. These 17 children had a total of 50 fractures, an average of 2.9 per affected child. Fractures in the upper thoracic region (T5-8) accounted for 55%. Only 56% of all fractures were symptomatic. With multivariate regression, we identified male sex (P < .01), body mass index z-score (P < .02), and cumulative glucocorticoid dose (P < .01) as significant predictors of the number of vertebral fractures.

Conclusions: Our study examined the prevalence of vertebral fractures in a high-risk pediatric population. Nineteen percent of our cohort had vertebral fractures. Significant risk factors for the development of vertebral fractures include male sex and cumulative glucocorticoid dose. Better understanding of the extent of the problem in this population will allow us to further refine screening guidelines and treatment in these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Rheumatic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Rheumatic Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Fractures / epidemiology*


  • Glucocorticoids