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Study Shows Childhood Obesity the Major Risk Factor for Serious Hip Disease

Boy kicking a ball outdoors. Boy kicking a ball outdoors.

​New research in the November 2018 Pediatrics suggests that rising childhood obesity rates are causing more adolescents to develop a debilitating hip disease requiring urgent surgery.  Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE), which affects 1 in 2,000 adolescents, causes the hip to deform--and sometimes completely collapse--causing pain and life-long disability.

For the study, "Childhood Obesity and Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis" researchers looked at body mass index (BMI) for nearly 600,000 children in Scotland, where BMI measurements are collected through routine school health screening.

Using this large cohort of children, the researchers showed that children who were obese at 5 years old had a 75 percent likelihood of remaining obese when they were 12 years old. Most crucially, children with severe obesity at 5 years old, had almost 20 times the subsequent risk of developing SCFE than a lower weight child. The greater the BMI of the child, the greater the risk of SCFE. Study authors said surgeons have long believed obesity may be responsible for SCFE, though there was no substantial proof until now.

It is important that doctors who treat children are aware of SCFE, they said, especially among children with obesity. While children with SCFE identified early typically only need relatively simple surgery, the authors said, SCFE is one of the most common reasons for hip replacement in young adults, and sometimes even children.

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10/22/2018 12:00 AM
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