What Is Low Bone Density?

Low bone density is a condition in which bones are less dense and therefore weaker than they should be at that age. Low bone density with a significant fracture history is called osteoporosis. The care team will let you know if your child has a significant fracture history.

Is My Child at Risk of Low Bone Density?

Your child is at risk of having low bone density if they have one or more of these risk factors:

  • Low muscle mass or tone
  • Less active lifestyle
  • Poor nutrition
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Dairy-free and/or gluten-free diet
  • Taking certain anti-seizure medications for a year or more
  • Other medications, such as antipsychotics and proton pump inhibitors
  • Use of oral corticosteroids for more than 3 months
  • Other diseases that can happen with ASD, including celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease or conditions needing a wheelchair.

What Causes Low Bone Density?

There are many causes of low bone density. The most common causes in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) include:

  • Family history of low bone density
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Low calcium intake through diet and supplements
  • Special diets
  • Taking certain medications
  • Certain health conditions
Rev. 12/2018. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.