In a new clinical report, “Optimizing Bone Health in Children and Adolescents,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discusses strategies pediatricians can use in health visits to optimize children’s bone health. The report supports that the primary source of nutrition for healthy infants should continue to be human breast milk, or infant formula if human milk is not available. After the first year of life, the main source of dietary calcium is milk and other dairy products, which accounts for 70-80 percent of dietary calcium intake. The report also recommends that pediatricians encourage children and adolescents to increase their daily intake of foods and beverages containing calcium and vitamin D, including non-fat milk and low-fat yogurts, which are both good sources of calcium. The report further supports:
- An increase in the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D by the Institute of Medicine. The report, however, does not suggest universal screening for vitamin D deficiency in healthy children. The RDA of vitamin D for children ages 12 months and older is 600 IU.
- Focusing screening for vitamin D deficiency on children and adolescents with recurrent low-impact fractures or those with medical conditions associated with reduced bone mineral density.
- That pediatricians ask parents about the type and amount of exercise their children are receiving, and encourage weight-bearing activities such as walking, dancing and running to help optimize bone health throughout childhood and adolescence.
This report has been endorsed by American Bone Health, a national, community-based organization that provides educational programs, tools and resources to help the public understand bone disease and bone health.
Kylia Crane, RD, LD is a registered dietitian that works with pediatricians in Georgia to increase knowledge, advocacy and promotion of nutrition best practices for the infant, child and adolescent.