Best defense against osteoporosis begins in childhood

While osteoporosis most typically affects persons over age 50, the best defense against it begins in childhood.

In the U.S. today, 10 million people have osteoporosis; a condition characterized by decreased bone mass and density, causing a high risk for fractures. An additional 34 million individuals have been identified as having low bone mass, a risk factor for the disease.

Bone mass (the amount of bone tissue in the skeleton) accumulated during childhood and adolescence is an important factor in lifelong bone health. During that time period, the skeleton becomes larger and denser. As much as 90 percent of a person's peak bone mass is established by age 18 for girls and age 20 for boys.

Clearly it is essential to do everything we can to ensure children learn healthy habits to build bone mass for life. It is equally important to instill these habits in children who are non-ambulatory, as they are already at increased risk for osteoporosis as adults.

Raising Awareness

Bone and Joint Decade, which continues through 2011, is a concerted worldwide effort to increase understanding and awareness of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries through prevention, education and research.

During Bone and Joint Decade's National Action Week, Oct. 12-20, Shriners Hospitals for Children®will work to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition and exercise for healthy bones. For exercise and nutrition tips to help build strong bones, please visit http://bit.ly/a6tWcshealthybones

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