Juvenile Bone Health Kids and Their Bones: A Guide for Parents

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My Son Has Asthma and Takes a Steroid Medication to Control It. His Doctor Said This Might Affect His Bones. Is There Anything We Can Do About This?

Asthma itself does not pose a threat to bone health, but some medications used to treat the disease can have a negative effect on bones when taken for a long time. Corticosteroids, a type of anti-inflammatory medication, are often prescribed for asthma. These medications can decrease calcium absorbed from food, increase calcium loss from the kidneys, and shrink a child's bone bank account.

Kids with asthma need to take special care of their bones, making sure to get enough calcium and weight-bearing exercise. Some health care providers recommend extra calcium each day: between 1,000 and 1,500 mg. Many people think milk and dairy products – great sources of calcium and vitamin D – trigger asthma attacks, but this is probably true only if your child is allergic to dairy foods. Unfortunately, this misconception often results in an unnecessary avoidance of dairy products, which is especially risky for kids with asthma, who need extra calcium during their bone-building years.

Because exercise can often trigger an asthma attack, many people with asthma avoid weight-bearing physical activities that strengthen bone. Kids with asthma may be able to exercise more comfortably in an air-conditioned place, such as a school gym or health club.

Talk to your child's doctor for more information about protecting his bones while he is taking asthma medications.

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