Dr. Mervi Taskinen, University of Helsinki, and colleagues evaluated the bone health of 44 children a few years after they underwent stem cell transplantation. The researchers reported that more than one third of the children and adolescents who had allogeneic stem cell transplantation had thinning of their bones, and one in five had crushed vertebrae in their backs. Bone thinning "was especially evident at the hip" in the pubertal and postpubertal children, the investigators said.
The children had previously undergone allogeneic stem cell transplantation. They were being treated for leukemia and a variety of other cancerous and non-cancerous conditions. Allogeneic means that the cells from a closely matched donor are removed and implanted in the patient. The goal of the therapy is typically to replace diseased cells of the bone marrow with fully functioning cells from another person.
The investigators concluded that because of the heightened risk of bone thinning and vertebral fractures, children undergoing stem cell transplantation should be carefully monitored after the procedure and possibly given drugs that help strengthen the bones.
Illustration: MicroSoft clipart.
ABC News (07/24/07)
Health Central (07/24/07)
The Star (07/25/07)