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Osteopenia

Your child has been identified as being at risk for developing osteopenia.

What is osteopenia?

Osteopenia is bone weakening. When patients do not have enough of the minerals that make bones strong, their bones can be weaker than normal. This put the bones at risk of breaking. Weak bones can impact everyday living.  For example, a person with osteopenia could have a hip fracture during a diaper change, or shoulder dislocation from improper lifting. Osteopenia can lead to fractures, pain and limited mobility. 

To clarify, your child has not been diagnosed with osteopenia. We have identified them as at risk for developing osteopenia, so our team will work with you and your child to strengthen bones and prevent injury.

Some of the reasons that put your child at risk for osteopenia may include:

  • Being ill for a long period of time
  • Loop diuretic (Lasix) use for longer than 3 weeks
  • Long-term use of steroids
  • Not tolerating feeding
  • Chylothorax
  • Previous fractures
  • Genetic abnormalities

What lab values are we monitoring?

  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Alkaline Phosphatase (indicates how well bones are formed) 

Who is going to help guide your child’s care during this time?

  • Dietitian – will watch lab values and recommend vitamins and nutrients for your child.
  • An occupational (OT) therapist or physical therapist (PT) will show you exercises to strengthen your child’s bones. They will also show you how to position your child to support and protect them.
  • Endocrinologist – will recommend nutrients or prescribe medications to make the bone stronger (depending on your child’s specific situation, endocrinology might not be involved).
  • Nursing – Your nurse will teach you how to move your child carefully and monitor his or her progress.

What are we going to do?

  • Careful handling during all cares, including diaper changes, positioning and holding/lifting.
  • Monitor lab values.
  • Consult OT/PT for exercises and supportive positioning to help your child’s bones get stronger.
  • Adjust IV fluid or vitamin supplements to treat nutrients or minerals that are not in normal range.

Questions?

This information is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please ask your health care professional.

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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