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Farming at young age may lead to bone disease in adulthood
Date:7/14/2008

Although farm chores are likely to keep young boys in shape and out of trouble, University of Cincinnati (UC) environmental health experts caution that it could be harmful to overall bone health if done too often at a young age.

A UC research team recently reported data suggesting that excessive weight-bearing activitiessuch as squatting, kneeling or liftingcan affect the mechanical properties of developing bone. They say this could leave junior farmers more susceptible to degenerative skeletal disorders later in life.

"Research has clearly shown that healthy adults who engage in excessive weight-bearing activities often develop bone disorders," explains Amit Bhattacharya, PhD, a UC professor of environmental health and principal investigator of the study. "These excessive, repetitive weight-bearing activities could cause irreparable trauma and impair growth in young children whose bones are still developing."

The UC-led team's findings were published in June 2008 issue of Journal of Agromedicine.

For this pilot study, Bhattacharya's team wanted to know if high levels of load-bearing activity done repetitively, such as shoveling chicken feed, would cause changes in the mechanical properties of bonespecifically, mass and structural strength.

The team recruited 36 boys, age 12 to 19, from Butler County, Ohio, to study the biomechanical properties of developing bone. Eighteen boys had a history of regular work on family farms and the remainder were not involved in farm-related activities.

Researchers developed a list of 22 tasks children of this age might be asked to do. Each boy was surveyed about the tasks he performed to split participants into farm and non-farm groups.

In order to gauge overall bone health, the team took two measurements: bone mass, which is a measure of how much bone exists, and dynamic bone quality, the bone's ability to sustain incoming force during physical activity
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Contact: Amanda Harper
amanda.harper@uc.edu
513-558-4657
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert

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