New research published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reveals that obese children who sustain a supracondylar humeral fracture can be expected to have more complex fractures as well as experience more postoperative complications than children of a normal weight. According to a Science Daily news report, this is the first study to assess the implications of obesity on this type of a fracture and it validates the public health efforts in combating childhood obesity. More than 350 patients ranging in age from 2 to 11 years who had undergone operative treatment for this type of fracture were included in the study.

Of the participants in the study, the Science Daily news report notes that 41 children were underweight (BMI <5th percentile), 182 were normal weight (BMI in the 5th to 85th percentile), 63 were overweight (BMI in the >85th percentile), and 68 were obese (BMI in the >95th percentile). Patient records were reviewed for demographic data, injury data, and body mass index (BMI) percentile. Overall, the study included 149 patients with type-2 fractures, 11 of whom were diagnosed with obesity, and 205 patients with type-3 fractures, of which 57 were diagnosed with obesity.

The Science Daily news report indicates that using logistic regression, obesity was associated with complex fractures and more complications.

Michelle S. Caird, MD, of the University of Michigan, states, “Our research aims to remind parents that there are many serious risks to childhood obesity, including fractures and surgical complications. It’s important to ensure that children get the proper amount of exercise and to build their bone banks early in life to a strong and healthy frame.”

Caird adds, “Future research needs to focus on modifying obesity in kids to test if that changes fracture complexity and complication profiles. We also should focus on research to improve childhood bone health overall whether this is more calcium, vitamin D, exercise or a combination of such measures to help further build and maintain a skeleton that can structurally and metabolically support the person through their lifetime.”

Sources: Science Daily, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons