Fracture incidence in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome - A population-based case-control study

Child Abuse Negl. 2019 May:91:95-101. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.03.008. Epub 2019 Mar 8.


Background: The differential diagnosis of non-accidental injury during childhood includes medical conditions that predispose to skeletal fragility. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) has been proposed as one such condition despite little objective evidence in the medical literature.

Objective: To investigate if EDS causes increased bone fragility during infancy and childhood.

Participants and setting: Residents of an 8-county region in southern Minnesota using the Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) medical records-linkage system.

Methods: This retrospective, population-based, case-control study identified subjects with EDS from 1976 to 2015 who had complete records for at least their first year of life. Validity of diagnosis was ascertained using the 2017 International Classification of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes. Records were reviewed for fracture diagnoses that were characterized by age, location, type and mechanism.

Results: Of 219 potential cases, 21 had complete records for the first year of life and sufficient evidence in the medical record to support an EDS diagnosis. Of these 21, there were 14 hypermobile, 2 classical, 4 vascular, and 1 arthrochalasia EDS subtypes. 11 of 21 EDS cases (52.4%) and 15 of 63 controls (23.8%) had one or more fractures during childhood. No fractures were identified in the first year of life. Comparing cases to controls, EDS was associated with having any fractures during childhood with an odds ratio of 3.4 (95% CI: 1.20-9.66).

Conclusions: We found no evidence that infants with common forms of EDS are predisposed to more frequent fractures. Ambulatory subjects with these EDS subtypes may have a higher incidence of fractures during childhood.

Keywords: Bone; Child abuse; Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; Fractures; Infant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / complications*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnosis
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retrospective Studies