Broken arms way up

Adolescence is prime time for broken bones. The body is growing longer bones so fast that mineral density can’t keep up. And the active lifestyles of many children lead to falls and collisions.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., report that young people are busting their forearms at a clip far exceeding that seen 30 years ago.

Three-year blocks of medical records ending in 1971 and 2001 revealed that forearm fractures rose by 42 percent in and around Rochester between those two periods, the scientists report in the Sept. 17 Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers studied people up to age 35, but the vast majority of breaks occurred in children between 10 and 16.

Arm fractures suffered during sports and recreational activities doubled over the 30-year span, accounting for the overall increase, says study coauthor Sundeep Khosla. Among males, fractures from accidents during inline skating, skateboarding, skiing, hockey, and bicycling rose sharply. Among females, bones broken during skating, skiing, soccer, and basketball jumped the most.

Diet may play a role, Khosla says. During the past 20 years, children have been replacing milk consumption with calcium-free soft drinks (see The Risks in Sweet Solutions to Young Thirsts).


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