Knowledge of the epidemiology of children’s fractures is essential to develop preventive strategies. The aim of this study was to analyze the individual/lifestyle determinants of fractures across pediatric age groups.
A cross-sectional study was performed in the first six months of 2008 through questionnaire on a sample of children from an outpatient clinic for pediatric fractures. Differences in gender, anatomic site, circumstances and location of fracture occurrence, behavioural lifestyle, and calcium intake were investigated among three different age classes (pre-school children, school children, and adolescents).
The sample consisted of 382 subjects (2-14 years of age) sustaining a fracture after low or moderate trauma. Males were at a higher risk of fractures than females; greater than two-thirds of injuries occurred after low-energy trauma and the upper limb was more frequently involved. With increasing age, the male/female ratio and time spent in sports participation increased (p < 0.001), while calcium intake and time spent in sedentary behaviors decreased (p < 0.001 and < 0.003, respectively). Gender discordance existed in pre-school children with respect to the anatomic location, and in school children and adolescents with respect to the dynamics. In the adolescent group, males were more physically active and also more sedentary than females. Fractures most frequently occurred in homes (41.6%), followed by playgrounds and footpaths (26.2%), sports facilities (18.3%), and educational facilities (13.9%), with gender differences existing only in adolescence. Twenty-three percent of the subjects sustained one or more fractures in the past. The percentage of recurrent fractures increased with age (p = 0.001), with a similar trend in both genders.
Gender differences were shown in the prevalence of injuries, characteristics, and circumstances across ages. These differences may be explained by the related changes in behaviors, together with attending different places. Individual and lifestyle factors can in part explain the variability in the occurrence of fractures and can also address targeted preventive strategies.