Preventing bone fractures in children
Bone fractures are on the rise during the summer months. From playing outside to participating in physical activities, children are vulnerable to unexpected falls and accidents.
Dr. Jill Larson, attending physician of orthopedic surgery at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, offers awareness on how to distinguish common types of bone breaks in children and shares tips on bone fracture prevention.
There are five frequent locations for fracture in children: distal forearm/wrist, ankle, tibia, both bone/forearm and elbow. All of these fractures vary in treatment from casting to surgery depending on the severity of the fracture and location.
What are some risk factors for bone fractures?
• The lack of vitamin D
Depending on the geographic region, due to lack of sun exposure, some kids do not receive enough vitamin D. While eating foods rich in vitamin D, such as fish and mushrooms, can help, most kids need a vitamin D supplement of 1000 IU daily to prevent deficiency.
• Children who are overweight or obese
Obese kids are susceptible to bone fractures because they have a lack of physical activity and a greater stress placed on their bones during a fall. Treatment for fractures can be difficult in obese children as crutches can be hard for them to use and cast immobilization may not effectively stabilize bones.
• Monkey bars, slides and trampolines
Each year, nearly 200,000 kids injure themselves on playgrounds in America, according to Larson. Playgrounds with shock-absorbing surfaces such as rubber, synthetic turf, sand, wood chips or mulch can minimize the severity of a fall. Ensure supervision is implemented at all times and avoid dangerous tricks.
• TVs, kitchen stools, beds and window falls
"Numerous fracture-related injuries occur from TVs and furniture tipping over on walls as well as unintentional window falls," said Larson. "Make sure to properly secure furniture using wall mounts or brackets and instill window guards."
Strap children and babies when using high chairs, infant carriers, swings or strollers and have approved safety gates for stairs.
• Skateboards, scooters, skates, bicycles or any activity involving a wheel
Remember, WHO: if there is a Wheel then Helmet On. A properly fitted helmet should not move around when shaking your head.
• Lawn Mowers and distracted walking
Keep children at least 20 feet away from a running lawn mower and educate older kids on the importance of not texting or talking on the phone while walking.
"Supervision is the most important factor in preventing injuries. To build and maintain strong bones, implement a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D supplementation and encourage physical activity," Larson said.
• Children's Health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Lurie Children's Hospital. For additional information, visit luriechildrens.org.