Purpose of review
Skeletal fragility is now recognized as a significant complication of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Many patients with T1D develop the disease in childhood and prior to the attainment of peak bone mass and strength. This manuscript will review recent studies investigating the effects of T1D on skeletal development.
Mild-to-moderate deficits in bone density, structure, and mineral accrual were reported early in the course of T1D in some but not all studies. Childhood-onset disease was associated with a more severe skeletal phenotype in some adult studies. Lower than expected bone mass for muscle size was been described. Hemoglobin A1c was negatively associated with bone density and structure in several studies, though the mechanism was not clear.
The use of advanced imaging techniques has shown that the adverse effects of T1D on the developing skeleton extend beyond bone density to include abnormalities in bone size, shape, microarchitecture, and strength. Despite these gains, a uniform understanding of the pathophysiology underlying skeletal fragility in this disorder remains elusive. Longitudinal studies, especially in association with interventions to reduce hyperglycemia or improve muscle strength, are needed to inform bone healthcare in T1D.