Osteopenia in children surviving brain tumours
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Osteopenia has been reported in children surviving acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, apparently as a consequence of therapy. It has been suggested that cranial irradiation may play a crucial role in this disorder. To explore that possibility, survivors of brain tumours in childhood, all of whom had received radiotherapy, were examined for evidence of bone mineral loss. 19 children were assessed, on average at 7 years after treatment. Measurements of growth velocities, plain radiography of the skeleton, bone densitometry, health-related quality of life and physical activity were undertaken. Growth hormone (GH) deficiency had been detected in 6 children and 5 had received GH replacement, for a minimum of more than 3 years. 9 children were radiographically osteopenic (including the 5 who had received GH). Z scores for bone mineral density (BMD) were negative in the majority of children. Health-related quality of life was less and pain more frequent in those with low BMD scores. Pain was correlated negatively with both free-time activity and seasonal activity (P < 0.01). Osteopenia is a common sequel of therapy in children with brain tumours. Those with osteopenia have more pain and more compromised, health-related quality of life than those who are not osteopenic, and pain significantly limits physical activity. The pathogenesis of osteopenia in these children is still uncertain, but is likely to be multifactorial.
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