Expert panel consensus recommendations for diagnosis and treatment of secondary osteoporosis in children

Pediatr Rheumatol Online J. 2020 Feb 24;18(1):20. doi: 10.1186/s12969-020-0411-9.


Background: Osteoporosis incidence in children is increasing due to the increased survival rate of patients suffering from chronic diseases and the increased use of drugs that can damage bones. Recent changes made to the definition of childhood osteoporosis, along with the lack of guidelines or national consensuses regarding its diagnosis and treatment, have resulted in a wide variability in the approaches used to treat this disease. For these reasons, the Osteogenesis Imperfecta and Childhood Osteoporosis Working Group of the Spanish Society of Pediatric Rheumatology has sounded the need for developing guidelines to standardize clinical practice with regard to this pathology.

Methods: An expert panel comprised of 6 pediatricians and 5 rheumatologists carried out a qualitative literature review and provided recommendations based on evidence, when that was available, or on their own experience. The level of evidence was determined for each section using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine (CEBM) system. A Delphi survey was conducted for those recommendations with an evidence level of IV or V. This survey was sent to all members of the SERPE. All recommendations that had a level of agreement higher or equal to 70% were included.

Results: Fifty-one recommendations, categorized into eight sections, were obtained. Twenty-four of them presented an evidence level 4 or 5, and therefore a Delphi survey was conducted. This was submitted electronically and received a response rate of 40%. All recommendations submitted to the Delphi round obtained a level of agreement of 70% or higher and were therefore accepted.

Conclusion: In summary, we present herein guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of secondary childhood osteoporosis based on the available evidence and expert clinical experience. We believe it can serve as a useful tool that will contribute to the standardization of clinical practice for this pathology. Prophylactic measures, early diagnosis and a proper therapeutic approach are essential to improving bone health, not only in children and adolescents, but also in the adults they will become in the future.

Keywords: Children; Low bone mineral density; Secondary osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Calcium / therapeutic use*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Delphi Technique
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / complications
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa / complications
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • Hematologic Diseases / complications
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Kidney Diseases / complications
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / complications
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / complications
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / etiology
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / prevention & control*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium