Boys With Asthma Face Higher Fracture Rate

Boys With Asthma Face Higher Fracture Rate

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Recent research conducted by The University of Melbourne highlight a link between childhood asthma and the risk of broken bones, particularly in boys.

Looking after a child who has asthma can be a difficult and often daunting time. From scary symptoms, such as wheezing, chest tightness and breathing difficulties, to frequent A&E trips for more severe types of the disease, it can be a concerning time as a parent. And, as if this wasn’t enough for you to be worrying yourself with, new research highlights that bone fractures can now be linked to asthma. Depending on the severity of the condition, and in a surprising revelation, it affects more boys than girls.

This recent study, conducted by the University of Melbourne, is subsequently the world’s largest of its kind involving children. It collected and analysed data from parents at 91 primary schools in the Barwon Statistical Division in Victoria, with more than 16,438 children aged between 3-14 being studied. 

The results conclusively found that regardless of age, boys who had recently experienced a wheeze or who had previously suffered with 1-3 recent wheezy episodes, were 30% more likely to fracture a bone than boys who had not endured a wheeze. Interestingly, the same connection wasn’t found in girls of the study, although older girls with asthma did indeed possess an increased risk of bone fracture.

Globally, 14% of children or one in seven are diagnosed as having prevalent asthma, which is often managed with prescribed drugs called corticosteroids, which are administered by a variety of inhalers. But according to the researchers, girls with asthma are not at a higher risk of fractures, which may be due to them taking part in less risky behaviours.

Lead Researcher in the study; Dr. Sharon Brennan-Olsen, from the University of Melbourne, stated, “In children, bone development occurs up until around the age of 20, meaning that if boys are maturing later, their bone development is much less mature.”

Increased fracture rates actually relate to the bone mineralization lagging in bone growth,” Dr. Brennan-Olsen added.

So, what’s the significance of this particular study? Dr Brennan-Olsen notes that due to the size, inclusive information, and use of medical, radiological evidence when assessing fractures,  “It is larger and stronger than previous studies.”

So, what can you do to help as a concerned parent, particularly as one to boys suffering with asthma? Well, as it turns out, there isn’t much you can do, aside from being aware of the increased risk. Dr. Brennan-Olsen highlighted “They may be more likely to fracture but there is nothing we can do about it because of the disease process, but rest assured it’s not to do with the medication, so don’t stop taking that medication whether it be preventers or relievers,” she also said.

Most parents are aware that refraining from intense amounts of physical activity is not recommended for children with asthma, with Dr. Brennan-Olsen also adding, “The recommendations are to remain physically active because it’s not only good for the bone health but also good for the asthma.”

Dr Brennan-Olsen insisted that the findings of this study highlight the crucial importance of promoting good bone health among children and young people who have been diagnosed with asthma. “What we do in early childhood determines what could happen in later life, and whether those children develop musculoskeletal problems,” she stated.

One of the positive outcomes of this research was the finding that the increase in bone fractures did not form a connection with the preventative, inhaled corticosteroids commonly used to treat this debilitating condition. So, parents of boys who have asthma should always ensure to keep up the prescribed medication and ensure a manageable regime of physical exercise in order to ensure optimum bone strength.