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Critical periods of bone health across the lifespan for individuals with cerebral palsy: Informing clinical guidelines for fracture prevention and monitoring

Daniel G Whitney 1Edward A Hurvitz 2Michelle S Caird 3

Bone doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2021.116009. 


Background: Skeletal fragility is a major burden for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP), but little is known clinically about when to prevent fractures or monitor bone health for this population. Critical periods of bone health (CPBH) are important windows for intervention to augment bone growth or mitigate bone loss. However, CPBH from the general population may not align with the needs or timing of skeletal fragility for individuals with CP. The objective of this study was to identify discrepancies when evaluating individuals with CP using CPBH across the lifespan from the general population, and propose new CP-specific CPBH.

Methods: Data from 2016 administrative claims databases were used, including the Optum’s De-identified Clinformatics® Data Mart Database and a random 20% sample of the Medicare fee-for-service database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Sex-stratified fracture prevalence was compared between individuals with and without CP across the lifespan starting at 2 years of age using age groups to capture important stages of development and 3-4-year age bands in adulthood (up to >80 years). Sex-specific CPBH from the general population included: rapid bone accrual, peak bone mass, menopause, and elderly.

Results: There were 23,861 individuals with CP and 9,976,161 individuals without CP. CPBH from the general population did not align with the timing of skeletal fragility for CP. For example, fractures were rare and decreased throughout the CPBH of peak bone mass for males without CP, but males with CP had a greater relative fracture risk (2.9-5.6-fold higher) and a substantially increased rate of fracture (CP-slope 14x higher than non-CP-slope). For females with CP, fracture risk was increased by 18-21 years, with additional inflection points (e.g., decade before menopause and again by 57-60 years). For males with CP, fracture risk in mid-life exhibited a pattern similar to elderly males without CP.

Conclusions: This study identified discrepancies in evaluating fracture risk for individuals with CP if using established CPBH from the general population. We therefore propose new CP- and sex-specific CPBH for fracture monitoring and prevention.