Ethnic and geographic variations in the epidemiology of childhood fractures in the United Kingdom

Rebecca J Moon, Nicholas C Harvey, Elizabeth M Curtis, Frank de Vries, Tjeerd van Staa, Cyrus Cooper

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BACKGROUND: Fractures are common in childhood, and there is considerable variation in the reported incidence across European countries, but few data relating to ethnic and geographic differences within a single country. We therefore aimed to determine the incidence of childhood fractures in the United Kingdom (UK), and to describe age-, ethnicity- and region- specific variations.

METHODS: The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) contains anonymised electronic health records for approximately 7% of the UK population. The occurrence of a fracture between 1988 and 2012 was determined from the CPRD for all individuals <18years of age, and used to calculate fracture incidence rates for age, sex and ethnicity. Regional fracture incidence rates were also calculated based on general practitioner location within 14 Strategic Health Authorities (SHA) within the UK.

RESULTS: The overall fracture incidence rate was 137 per 10,000 person-years (py). This was higher in boys (169 per 10,000 py) than girls (103 per 10,000 py) and white children (150 per 10,000 py) compared to those of black (64 per 10,000 py) and South Asian (81 per 10,000 py) ethnicity. Marked geographic variation in incidence was observed. The highest fracture rates were observed in Wales, where boys and girls had 1.82 and 1.97 times greater incidence, respectively, than those residing in Greater London.

CONCLUSION: In the period 1988-2012, there was marked geographic and ethnic variation in childhood fracture incidence across the UK. These findings also implicate lifestyle and socio-economic differences associated with location and ethnicity, and are relevant to policy makers in the UK and internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Fracture
  • Children
  • Epidemiology
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ethnicity
  • CPRD


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