Endocrine and musculoskeletal abnormalities in patients with Down syndrome

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2009 Jun;5(6):327-34. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2009.80.


Down syndrome has a prevalence of one in 500 to one in 1,000 live births and is the most common cause of mental retardation. Most patients are treated in childhood and adolescence for mental or growth retardation. Studies that evaluate bone mass in Down syndrome are limited, and many are small case series in pediatric and adult populations who live either in the community or in residential institutions. Several environmental and hormonal factors contribute to low bone mineral density in such patients. Muscle hypotonia, low amounts of physical activity, poor calcium and vitamin D intakes, hypogonadism, growth retardation and thyroid dysfunction contribute to substantial impairments in skeletal maturation and bone-mass accrual that predispose these patients to fragility fractures. Here, we review indications and limitations of bone-mass measurements in children, summarize the endocrine and skeletal abnormalities in patients presenting with Down syndrome, and review studies that investigate therapeutic strategies for such patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density
  • Down Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / metabolism
  • Endocrine System Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Abnormalities / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Abnormalities / metabolism
  • Musculoskeletal Abnormalities / pathology