Children with obesity are more likely to develop a debilitating hip disease — Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE) — during their adolescence, warns a new study. SCFE occurs mainly among teenagers, affecting 1 in 2,000 children. It deforms hip and sometimes completely collapses, causing pain and life-long disability.
Early recognition and treatment of the disease is important to minimise the severity. Nevertheless, SCFE is one of the most common reasons for a hip replacement in young adults, and sometimes even children. Surgeons have long believed obesity may be responsible, though there was no substantial proof until now.
The new findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that greater the body mass index (BMI) of the child, the higher the risk of SCFE. “Surgeons have long suspected that childhood obesity was the cause of this disease, and these results make it very clear,” said Daniel Perry, an orthopaedic surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England.
“It is important that doctors who treat children are aware of SCFE, especially amongst children with obesity. Identifying SCFE early means children typically only need relatively simple surgery, however children identified later often require high-risk reconstructive surgery,” Perry added.
For the study, the researchers looked at BMI of nearly 600,000 children. Children obese at age 5 had almost 20 times the subsequent risk of developing SCFE than a thin child. Most crucially, children with severe obesity at 5 years old, had almost 20 times the subsequent risk of developing SCFE than a thin child, the study said.
“SCFE has a profound affect on the quality of lives of adolescents. The link with obesity is striking – there are few other diseases in children that occur directly as a consequence of obesity, and this disease causes lifelong problems for the child,” said Steve Turner, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.