Previous studies have also shown that people with DS have reduced bone density, which increases the risk of fractures. The researchers also think that people with DS may have a different healing response to fractures.
This is alarming, the researchers say, because an incompletely healed fracture can have serious health effects. This may be worse for people with DS due to severe loss of bone density.
“Based on this, fracture risk is a major health concern for the Down syndrome community,” says Sherman. Fractures that don’t heal properly, what we call non-union, can kill people, whether they have Down syndrome or not.”
Dr Larry Suva, head of the VTPP division, said: “If this population really has a higher non-coherence rate than the normal population, that’s a big problem.
Non-healing fractures in Down syndrome go unnoticed?
The researchers say that there are two main explanations for why this problem has remained unnoticed so far. First, people with DS are living much longer than they used to. People with DS only had a life expectancy of 10 years in 1960, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By 2007, life expectancy had increased to 47 years as more knowledge and techniques were discovered and used to combat the endocrine effects of DS.
“We already know that lower bone mass in this population and increased life expectancy in this population has allowed researchers to better understand the long-term effects of their lower bone mass. Today , there are people with DS in their 20s and People in their 30s who have the right bone mass and bone structure for someone in their 60s. They are active members of the community and are playing sports. Obviously, that’s great, but if they increase the risk of fractures, that’s not going to happen, says Suva.
The second reason why this problem has gone unnoticed for a long time is that doctors and hospitals do not consider providing specialized treatment for patients with Down syndrome. Therefore, there is no easily available data to identify this problem.
“There is no medical code that identifies people with Down syndrome, so researchers don’t have any kind of database they can use to gather statistics that support this type of study. Down syndrome support groups and family members don’t want their loved one or themselves to admit they have the disease. They’re normal people anyway, so even with all the fractures are recorded every day in the United States, there is no way to determine which of these patients has Down syndrome and, therefore, no organized way to track their healing, “Suva said.
Future implications of research findings
The next steps will involve searching for data on people and focusing on practical barriers to fracture healing. No one is looking for a solution because no one knows there is a problem.
The researchers predict that due to the latest findings, people with DS will be given special consideration when it comes to bone health. In addition, bone-strengthening procedures will be more widely adopted and fractures will be more carefully monitored.
“We want doctors to tell patients ‘you’re 17; you can keep playing football and be active. But we also want them to make sure the patients’ diet and vitamin D levels are healthy.’ This is good, to do all of these suggested things for bone health. That’s our goal,” says Suva.