Osteoporosis in children can be primary or secondary due to chronic disease. Awareness among paediatricians is vital to identify patients at risk of developing osteoporosis. Previous fractures and backaches are clinical predictors, and low cortical thickness and low bone density are radiological predictors of fractures. Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a rare disease and should be managed in tertiary paediatric units with the necessary multidisciplinary expertise. Modern OI management focuses on functional outcomes rather than just improving bone mineral density. While therapy for OI has improved tremendously over the last few decades, this chronic genetic condition has some unpreventable, poorly treatable and disabling complications. In children at risk of secondary osteoporosis, a high degree of suspicion needs to be exercised. In affected children, further weakening of bone should be avoided by minimising exposure to osteotoxic medication and optimising nutrition including calcium and vitamin D. Early intervention is paramount. However, it is important to identify patient groups in whom spontaneous vertebral reshaping and resolution of symptoms occur to avoid unnecessary treatment. Bisphosphonate therapy remains the pharmacological treatment of choice in both primary and secondary osteoporosis in children, despite limited evidence for its use in the latter. The duration and intensity of treatment remain a concern for long-term safety. Various new potent antiresorptive agents are being studied, but more urgently required are studies using anabolic medications that stimulate bone formation. More research is required to bridge the gaps in the evidence for management of paediatric osteoporosis.
Vrinda Saraff and Wolfgang Högler
Maik Welzel, Leyla Akin, Anja Büscher, Tülay Güran, Berthold P Hauffa, Wolfgang Högler, Julia Leonards, Beate Karges, Heiner Kentrup, Birgul Kirel, Emine Esin Yalinbas Senses, Neslihan Tekin, Paul-Martin Holterhus and Felix G Riepe
Pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1 (PHA1) is a monogenic disease caused by mutations in the genes encoding the human mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) or the α (SCNN1A), β (SCNN1B) or γ (SCNN1G) subunit of the epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC). While autosomal dominant mutation of the MR cause renal PHA1, autosomal recessive mutations of the ENaC lead to systemic PHA1. In the latter, affected children suffer from neonatal onset of multi-organ salt loss and often exhibit cystic fibrosis-like pulmonary symptoms.
We searched for underlying mutations in seven unrelated children with systemic PHA1, all offsprings of healthy consanguineous parents.
Methods and results
Amplification of the SCNN1A gene and sequencing of all 13 coding exons unraveled mutations in all of our patients. We found five novel homozygous mutations (c.587_588insC in two patients, c.1342_1343insTACA, c.742delG, c.189C>A, c.1361-2A>G) and one known mutation (c.1474C>T) leading to truncation of the αENaC protein. All parents were asymptomatic heterozygous carriers of the respective mutations, confirming the autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. Five out of seven patients exhibited pulmonary symptoms in the neonatal period.
The α subunit is essential for ENaC function and mutations truncating the pore-forming part of the protein leading to systemic PHA1. Based on current knowledge, the pulmonary phenotype cannot be satisfactorily predicted.
Jan Idkowiak, Yasir S Elhassan, Pascoe Mannion, Karen Smith, Rachel Webster, Vrinda Saraff, Timothy G Barrett, Nicholas J Shaw, Nils Krone, Renuka P Dias, Melanie Kershaw, Jeremy M Kirk, Wolfgang Högler, Ruth E Krone, Michael W O’Reilly and Wiebke Arlt
Androgen excess in childhood is a common presentation and may signify sinister underlying pathology. Data describing its patterns and severity are scarce, limiting the information available for clinical decision processes. Here, we examined the differential diagnostic value of serum DHEAS, androstenedione (A4) and testosterone in childhood androgen excess.
Retrospective review of all children undergoing serum androgen measurement at a single center over 5 years.
Serum A4 and testosterone were measured by tandem mass spectrometry and DHEAS by immunoassay. Patients with at least one increased androgen underwent phenotyping by clinical notes review.
In 487 children with simultaneous DHEAS, A4 and testosterone measurements, we identified 199 with androgen excess (140 pre- and 59 post-pubertal). Premature adrenarche (PA) was the most common pre-pubertal diagnosis (61%), characterized by DHEAS excess in 85%, while A4 and testosterone were only increased in 26 and 9% respectively. PCOS was diagnosed in 40% of post-pubertal subjects, presenting equally frequent with isolated excess of DHEAS (29%) or testosterone (25%) or increases in both A4 and testosterone (25%). CAH patients (6%) predominantly had A4 excess (86%); testosterone and DHEAS were increased in 50 and 33% respectively. Concentrations increased above the two-fold upper limit of normal were mostly observed in PA for serum DHEAS (>20-fold in the single case of adrenocortical carcinoma) and in CAH for serum androstenedione.
Patterns and severity of childhood androgen excess provide pointers to the underlying diagnosis and can be used to guide further investigations.