The choice of normative pediatric reference database changes spine bone mineral density Z-scores but not the relationship between bone mineral density and prevalent vertebral fractures

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Mar;100(3):1018-27. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-3096. Epub 2014 Dec 11.


Objectives: Our objectives were to assess the magnitude of the disparity in lumbar spine bone mineral density (LSBMD) Z-scores generated by different reference databases and to evaluate whether the relationship between LSBMD Z-scores and vertebral fractures (VF) varies by choice of database.

Patients and design: Children with leukemia underwent LSBMD by cross-calibrated dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, with Z-scores generated according to Hologic and Lunar databases. VF were assessed by the Genant method on spine radiographs. Logistic regression was used to assess the association between fractures and LSBMD Z-scores. Net reclassification improvement and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve were calculated to assess the predictive accuracy of LSBMD Z-scores for VF.

Results: For the 186 children from 0 to 18 years of age, 6 different age ranges were studied. The Z-scores generated for the 0 to 18 group were highly correlated (r ≥ 0.90), but the proportion of children with LSBMD Z-scores ≤-2.0 among those with VF varied substantially (from 38-66%). Odds ratios (OR) for the association between LSBMD Z-score and VF were similar regardless of database (OR = 1.92, 95% confidence interval 1.44, 2.56 to OR = 2.70, 95% confidence interval 1.70, 4.28). Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve and net reclassification improvement ranged from 0.71 to 0.75 and -0.15 to 0.07, respectively.

Conclusions: Although the use of a LSBMD Z-score threshold as part of the definition of osteoporosis in a child with VF does not appear valid, the study of relationships between BMD and VF is valid regardless of the BMD database that is used.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / standards*
  • Adolescent
  • Bone Density*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choice Behavior
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / injuries
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • ROC Curve
  • Reference Values
  • Research Design
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures / epidemiology*