SYDNEY, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Asthma, with its accompanying wheezes, is associated with childhood fractures for boys but not girls, underlying the importance of bone health education for those at risk, according to Australian researchers involved in the largest study of its kind.
Boys with a recent wheeze, or who had one to three recent wheezy episodes, were 30 percent more likely to fracture a bone than boys who had not experienced the breathing difficulty, the University of Melbourne, which led the study, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Given the number of children with asthma, we really need to promote bone health for them," said the university's research fellow Dr Sharon Brennan-Olsen.
"What we do in early childhood determines what could happen in later life, and whether those children develop musculoskeletal problems."
The inflammatory disease can lead to bone loss by interfering with bone formation. The authors also speculated that girls may have fewer fractures due to faster maturing bodies and lifestyle differences, such as the types of sports activities, and/or differences in risk-taking at certain ages. Girls also generally start the greatest bone mass accrual at an earlier age.
Their project, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, collected data from parents at more than 90 primary schools in the southwest region of Australian state Victoria, covering more than 16,400 children aged from 3-14. The team identified more than 960 fractures sustained by over 820 children in the region, with wrist injuries accounting for 52.3 percent of the cases.
They then investigated associations with asthma symptoms and severity and how many times medical attention was needed for the affliction.
The study was significant due to its size, comprehensive asthma information, use of radiological evidence to identify fractures and inclusion of an entire regional population, said Brennan-Olsen.
More than 334 million people worldwide are estimated to have asthma, and about 14 percent of children, or one in seven, have asthma symptoms, said the university.