High-impact sports associated with increased risk of stress fracture among adolescent girls

Apr 04, 2011

Adolescent girls participating in high-impact physical activity, specifically basketball, running and gymnastics/cheerleading, appear to be at increased risk for developing stress fractures, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the August print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"Weight-bearing activity stimulates bone remodeling and thus increases bone mass density, but very high levels of activity may be detrimental to bone health and increase the risk of stress fracture," the authors write as background information in the article. "Although stress fractures are relatively uncommon, they affect as many as 20 percent of young female athletes and military recruits."

Alison E. Field, Sc.D., of Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues examined data on 6,831 girls between the ages of 9 and 15. Participants were daughters of women enrolled in the Nurses' Heath Study II, and data were collected using self-report questionnaires between 1996 and 2004.

During seven years of follow-up, 267 girls (3.9 percent) developed a stress fracture. Family history of osteoporosis or low bone mass density was strongly associated with the risk of stress fracture. Girls reporting a family history of osteoporosis or low bone mass density were almost twice as likely to develop stress fracture. Additionally, girls who engaged in eight or more hours of a week were twice as likely to develop a stress fracture as those who engaged in less than four hours of activity per week.

When examining high-impact sports individually, only basketball, running, and gymnastics/cheerleading were independently associated with increased risk of stress fracture. Neither nonimpact activity nor medium-impact activity was predictive of increased risk, but each hour of high-impact activity increased the risk of stress fracture by approximately 8 percent.

Older age at the start of a girl's menstrual period also increased the risk of developing stress fracture. Each one-year delay in onset of menstruation was associated with an approximate 30 percent increase in risk. Being underweight, overweight and engaging in disordered eating were not associated with the risk of developing stress fracture.

"Our study observed that high impact activities, specifically , running and gymnastics/cheerleading, significantly increase risk for stress fracture among . Thus, there is a need to establish training programs that are rigorous and competitive but include varied training in lower-impact activities to decrease the cumulative amount of impact in order to reduce the risk of stress fracture," the authors conclude. "Therefore, clinicians, parents and coaches should continue to promote activity to young girls but should make sure that training hours are not excessive, thereby not compromising bone health."

Explore further: Food safety expert shares tips on how a home kitchen can pass a restaurant inspection

More information: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published online April 4, 2011. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.34

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

HIV patients at greater risk for bone fractures

Aug 28, 2008

HIV-infected patients have a higher prevalence of fractures than non HIV-infected patients, across both genders and critical fracture sites according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of ...

Gymnastic training improves bone health in girls

May 05, 2010

According to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), long-term elite rhythmic gymnastics exerts positive effects on volumetric bone density and bo ...

Recommended for you

Irish court mulls rights of dead woman vs. fetus

10 hours ago

A lawyer representing a 17-week-old fetus living inside the clinically dead body of its mother told a Dublin court Wednesday that the unborn child's right to life trumps the woman's right to a dignified death.

Trends in indoor tanning among high school students

Dec 23, 2014

While indoor tanning has decreased among high school students, about 20 percent of females engaged in indoor tanning at least once during 2013 and about 10 percent of girls frequently engaged in the practice by using an indoor ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.