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Boys with asthma are 30% more likely to break a bone (but girls aren’t affected)

Asthma increases the risk of bone fractures in boys, new research suggests.

Moderate-to-severe sufferers of the condition, who experience symptoms daily, are 30 per cent more likely to break a bone than those without the inflammatory lung disease, a study found.

Lead author Dr Sharon Brennan-Olsen, from the University of Melbourne, said: ‘Because asthma is an inflammatory disease it can lead to bone loss by interfering with the mechanisms in the bone formation and resorption.’

Girls with asthma are not at a higher risk of fractures, which may be due to them taking part in less risky behaviours, according to the researchers.

The scientists recommend young, male asthma sufferers continue to be active but be aware of the risks.

Around one in 11 children in the UK have asthma.

Asthma increases the risk of bone fractures in boys, but not girls, research suggests (stock)


Young children who grow up exposed to air pollution are more likely to develop asthma, research suggested in December 2017.

A mix of dust, sand and non-exhaust tailpipe emissions, known as coarse particulate matter, increases youngsters under 11’s risk of the lung condition by 1.3 per cent, a study by The Johns Hopkins University found.

Air pollution also raises their risk of visiting the emergency room due to their asthma by 3.3 per cent and being hospitalised with the condition by 4.5 per cent, the research adds.

Young children are thought to be more at risk due to them typically spending a lot of time outdoors and being vulnerable to air pollution due to their immature lungs, according to the researchers.

Around 7.1 million children in the US have asthma, making it the most common chronic childhood illness. 

Approximately 1.1 million youngsters are affected in the UK. 

The researchers analysed the asthma diagnoses and treatment data of 7,810,025 children aged between five and 20 years old living in 34 states between 2009 and 2010.

They estimated levels of coarse particulate matter in each zip code using information from the EPA’s Air Quality System database from 2009 to 2010. 

Asthma patients should continue to exercise and take their medication

Results further suggest the use of inhaled corticosteroids, which are a go-to preventative treatment in asthma, do not influence sufferers’ fracture risk.

Dr Brennan-Olsen adds little can be done to prevent bone breaks, saying: ‘[Boys] may be more likely to fracture but there is nothing we can do about it because of the disease process, but rest assured it’s not to do with the medication, so don’t stop taking that medication whether it be preventers or relievers.’

She adds children with asthma should continue exercising as it benefits both their lung and bone health.

How the research was carried out 

The researchers analysed more than 16,000 students aged between three and 13 from 91 primary schools in the state of Victoria.

The students were linked to fracture registers.

Their asthma symptoms were determined by their parents completing a questionnaire that asked about any wheezing episodes or related doctor visits.

The findings were published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. 

Children with chest infections are more likely to develop asthma   

This comes after research released last September suggested having a chest infection as a child raises a person’s risk of asthma by up to four times.

Suffering from a lower-respiratory tract infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, before the age of five increases an individual’s likelihood of developing the lung condition by between two and four times, a study found.

An upper-respiratory tract infection, including a cold or tonsillitis, raises the risk by 1.5 times, the research adds.

Study author Dr Evelien van Meel, from the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, said: ‘These findings support the hypothesis that early-life respiratory tract infections may influence the development of respiratory illnesses in the longer term.

‘In particular, lower-respiratory tract infections in early life seem to have the greatest adverse effect on lung function and the risk of asthma.’