Osteoporosis in childhood

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2017 Sep;29(5):535-546. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000423.


Purpose of review: The aim of this review is to highlight recent findings in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric osteoporosis.

Recent findings: Several genes are involved in bone mass acquisition, and various monogenic bone disorders characterized by reduced bone mineral density and increased bone fragility have been recently described. Moreover, many chronic diseases and/or their treatment have been associated with impaired bone mass acquisition. Pediatric osteoporosis should be adequately suspected and properly diagnosed in children at risk of fractures. Particularly, detection of vertebral fracture allows the diagnosis regardless of densitometric evaluation. Dual X-ray absorptiometry remains the most widely used densitometric technique in childhood, but interpretation of results should be made with caution because of different confounding factors. Bisphosphonates represent one of the main medical treatments of pediatric osteoporosis, and many different protocols have been proposed. Bisphosphonates administration should be characterized by a first phase, followed by a period of maintenance. Optimal route of administration, duration of therapy, and long-term safety of bisphosphonates treatment require further investigation.

Summary: Careful monitoring of children at risk of fractures is essential to pose early diagnosis of osteoporosis. In children with persistent risk factors and reduced probability of spontaneous recovery, medical treatment with bisphosphonates should be considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Density*
  • Child
  • Disease Management*
  • Fractures, Bone* / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone* / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone* / prevention & control
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Osteoporosis* / diagnosis
  • Osteoporosis* / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis* / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Risk Factors


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents

Supplementary concepts

  • Juvenile osteoporosis