Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it true that having scoliosis is connected for girls with eating disorders? I'm a middle-school soccer coach and I'm always interested in educating our girls about health and development.

There is a link between adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) and low estrogen levels. And low estrogen levels can occur as a result of overexercising and/or eating disorders. Young female athletes often have delayed maturation and amenorrhea (no menstrual cycle). Too much exercise can have negative effects on the reproductive and skeletal systems. Low body weight and improper nutrition can delay the onset of the menstrual cycle. Keeping a balance of diet and exercise in the developing teen is always extremely important. Bone density is decreased in girls with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Estrogen deficiency, low intake of nutrients, low body weight, amenorrhea, low calcium intake, and reduced physical activity are all risk factors for bone loss. This type of reduced bone density is associated with a significantly increased risk of fracture even at a young age. A new term has been coined (female athlete triad) to describe the combination of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteopenia or osteoporosis, a situation that often goes unrecognized and untreated. Having education at an early age is very important. Including this information in your program may help prevent serious health issues in young, female athletes.

Eustathios Kenanidis, MD, et al. Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis and Exercising. Is There Truly a Liaison? In Spine. September 15, 2008. Vol. 33. No. 20. Pp. 2160-2165.

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