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Efficacy of Alendronate in the Treatment of Low Bone Density in the Pediatric and Young Adult Population
Samuel Norman Dominguez-Bartmess, BS1; Dan Tandberg, MD1; Asad M. Cheema1; Elizabeth A. Szalay, MD, CCD2
1 Department of Emergency Medicine (D.T.) and Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation (A.M.C.), University of New Mexico School of Medicine, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131
2 University of New Mexico Carrie Tingley Hospital, 1127 University Boulevard N.E., Albuquerque, NM 87102. E-mail address: ESzalay@salud.unm.edu
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Investigation performed at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Disclosure:None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 May 16;94(10):e62 1-6. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00751
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Pediatric osteoporosis is uncommon but can result in painful and debilitating insufficiency fractures. Treatment options for osteoporosis in children are few. Bisphosphonate therapy for children has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, but its use in that population has been increasing. Randomized controlled studies have not been done because of the small subject pool and the difficulty in randomizing a child with an insufficiency fracture to a placebo arm of a study. This retrospective case-control study of a population of children with primarily neuromuscular disease was done to review changes in bone mineral density as reflected by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanning.


Medical records and DXA scans were screened to identify children with low bone density who had been treated with alendronate as well as similar control subjects with low bone density for their age who had not received alendronate. Medication acquisition was confirmed by refill records, and cumulative exposure was calculated. Interval DXA scans were reviewed to correlate bone mineral density change in grams per square centimeter as well as the percent change and percent change over time for both alendronate-treated and control subjects.


Twenty-eight alendronate-treated subjects and thirty control subjects met the inclusion criteria. No significant improvement in bone mineral density was seen in the alendronate-treated subjects as compared with the control subjects. Some patients in both groups exhibited marked improvement, with improvement of >31% seen only in the alendronate-treated subjects.


Alendronate does not reliably improve bone density in children and young adults with primarily neuromuscular disease and without osteogenesis imperfecta. Individual patients treated with bisphosphonates must be carefully followed to ensure medication compliance and appropriate response.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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