, 15:315
Date: 29 Jan 2013

Long-Term Bone Health in Glucocorticoid-Treated Children with Rheumatic Diseases

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Abstract

Glucocorticoids (GC) are a standard treatment for pediatric rheumatic disease. Recent literature highlights skeletal vulnerability in children with rheumatic illness, including vertebral and peripheral fractures and reductions in bone mineral density in longitudinal follow-up. Annual vertebral fracture incidence of 4–6 % in those recently diagnosed and prevalence of 7–28 % in those several years post diagnosis have been reported. The fractures are often asymptomatic, often thoracic in location, and usually of mild, anterior wedge morphology. Diseases with more systemic involvement and severe inflammation (SLE, JDM) seem to be at higher risk. Neither BMD nor GC dose are ideal predictors for risk of fractures. These children also seem to have an increased incidence of long-bone fractures, particularly in the forearm and wrist; in the scant literature, long-bone fractures are not predictive of vertebral fractures. Bone mass accrual is typically suboptimum across time, although the use of potent steroid-sparing anti-inflammatory agents may counteract the effects of GC and active disease. Vitamin D insufficiency warrants ongoing monitoring. Additional targeted studies are justified to increase understanding of bone health risks in this population.

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Pediatric Rheumatology