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Study says anorexia could impair adolescent bone development

According to a recent study, children facing anorexia have higher chances of suffering from impaired bone development when they reach adolescent.

Based on the research it was uncovered that children and teenagers with even mild cases of anorexia exhibit abnormal bone structure.

Miriam A. Bredella, M.D., musculoskeletal radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston revealed Adolescence is the most critical period for growth of bone mass, and the onset of anorexia interferes with that process, impairment of bone development may permanently alter bone structure and increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis in adult life.

Anorexia is defined as an eating disorder characterized by emaciation, distorted body image and intense fear of gaining weight.

People with the disorder are obsessed with weight control and often perceive themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously thin.

The disorder primarily occurs among young women and affects one in 100 adolescent girls.

The medical experts revealed among the many health problems associated with anorexia is bone loss.

Brendella and her team used high-resolution, flat-panel volume computed tomography (CT) and DXA to study 10 adolescent girls, age 13 to 18, with mild anorexia and 10 age-matched girls without the disorder. The new, high-resolution CT exam allowed the researchers to identify differences in bone structure between the patients with anorexia and the healthy controls, whereas bone mineral density measurements obtained using DXA did not.

The researchers said the results showed that while there was not a significant difference in bone mineral density between the anorexic patients and the healthy control group, there were significant structural differences, indicating that changes in bone structure begin to occur in anorexic patients well before decreases in bone density.

Furthermore, the researchers claimed their data suggest that reassuring values of bone mineral density obtained using DXA may not reflect the true status of bone structure in this undernourished population.

Bredella said that in patients with anorexia, bone structure should be analyzed to detect abnormal bone health.