Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Iyar 5761 - May 16, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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US study: Young Charedim Have Weak Bones
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

A New York study found that charedi teenagers in Brooklyn -- especially the boys -- suffer from significantly lower bone mineral density (BMD) than their non-charedi counterparts.

Osteoporosis expert Dr. Yossi Foldes said he recommended that the hypothesis that a charedi childhood can lead to thin bones be studied among a similar group in Israel. "It is a very interesting finding," said Foldes of the Jerusalem Osteoporosis Center at Hadassah-University Hospital on Mount Scopus.

The article, called "Reduced Spinal Bone Mineral Density in Adolescents of an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community in Brooklyn" and written by Drs. Wael Taha, Daisy Chin, Arnold Silverberg, Larisa Lashiker, and Henry Anhalt, of Broklyn's Maimonides Medical Center, and Dr. Naila Khateeb, of Byrd Regional Hospital in Louisiana, examined 30 chareidi boys and 20 chareidi girls 15 to 19.

The authors, who used a device to check bone density and conducted a physical examination of each volunteer, found that BMD in the boys was "significantly decreased in ultra- Orthodox Jewish adolescents," and that the males had "profoundly lower spinal BMD" than the girls.

Since adolescence is the time of peak bone mass growth, with the maximal accrual rate occurring in early to mid-puberty and slowing in late puberty, low bone density could lead to osteoporosis decades later (the risk of this disease is generally much higher in women than men).

The main causes of low bone density in teenagers are inadequate physical activity, calcium intake, and vitamin D stores (from sunlight conversion of precursors to vitamin D, and to a lesser degree from dietary intake), the researchers noted.

The charedi youngsters, especially the boys, were found to get much less exercise than other teenagers and to remain indoors studying for long hours; since their dress covers most of their bodies, their skin is less exposed to sunlight when they are outside.


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