Is repeated childhood fracture related to areal bone density or body composition in middle age?

Osteoporos Int. 2022 Nov;33(11):2369-2379. doi: 10.1007/s00198-022-06500-0. Epub 2022 Aug 2.


Childhood fracture is common, but whether it predicts adult fracture is not clear. Repeat childhood fracture was associated with adult (≤ 45 years) fracture, and in women, lower areal bone density was associated with repeat childhood fracture. Identifying fracture-prone children can modify adult fracture risk management.

Introduction: A quarter of boys and 15% of girls will suffer multiple fractures, but it is not clear whether multiple fractures during growth predict fracture risk and areal bone density in adulthood. This study evaluated whether children who repeatedly fracture were at increased risk of low areal bone density, abnormal body composition, and fractures by age 45.

Methods: A subsample of a large birth cohort study with childhood fracture cases had areal bone density assessed at age 45 years. Participants were questioned regularly across their lifetime about fractures during childhood (ages 0-18 years of age) and adulthood (any fracture between 18 and 45 years). The number of fractures was collapsed into three categories: no fractures; 1 fracture; and > 1 fracture, separately for child and adult groups.

Results: At age 45 years, areal bone mineral density (g/cm2) and body composition were measured with dual X-ray absorptiometry in n = 555 participants. Compared to no fractures, twice as many girls (14% vs 7%, P = 0.156) and boys (31.4% vs 14.1%, P = 0.004) who repeatedly fractured in childhood sustained multiple fractures as adults. Both girls and boys who were fracture-free tended to remain fracture-free as adults (79.8% compared with 62.8%, P = 0.045, and 64.8% compared with 51.4%, P = 0.025, in males and females, respectively). Participants were more than twice as likely to fracture repeatedly as adults if they had sustained multiple fractures as a child (OR 2.5 95% CI: 1.4, 4.6). Women who repeatedly fractured during childhood had lower areal bone density, whereas repeated fracturing during childhood was not associated with areal bone density or body composition in men, even after adjustment for other factors known to influence fracture history.

Conclusion: Childhood fracture history is associated with persistent skeletal fragility in adulthood (≤ 45 years), even after adjustment for behavioral and demographic factors known to influence fracture history.

Keywords: Adult; Areal bone density; Body composition; DXA; Fracture; Longitudinal.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone* / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone* / etiology
  • Fractures, Multiple*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged