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Family History Linked to Stress Fracture in Athletic Girls

Incidence of menstrual irregularity similar in girls with and without stress fracture

THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Active female adolescents with stress fracture are significantly more likely to have a family history of osteoporosis or other skeletal anomalies than those without fractures, researchers report in the August issue of Pediatrics.

Catherine Gordon, M.D., of Children's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues compared menstrual and family histories of females aged 13 to 22 with first stress fracture with two matched controls. They excluded chronically ill patients and those taking medication affecting bone density or menstrual cycles.

The researchers found that most (91.7 percent) of the 168 girls were postmenarchal (mean age at menarche, 13.1). Both groups had similar incidence of menstrual irregularity. Girls with stress fracture exercised a mean of 8.2 hours weekly, versus 7.4 for the others.

Stress fracture patients were three times as likely to have a family history of osteopenia or osteoporosis as those without fracture and had relatively low bone mineral density.

"Among highly active female adolescents, only family history was independently associated with stress fracture," the authors write. "The magnitude of this association suggests that further investigations of inheritable skeletal factors are warranted in this population, along with evaluation of bone mineral density in girls with stress fracture."

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