(HealthDay News) – For children and young adults with cystic fibrosis, adequate calcium intake plus calcifediol can improve bone mineral density, while alendronate can increase bone mineral density for some non-responders, according to a study published online June 2 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Maria Luisa Bianchi, MD, from the Centro Malattie Metaboliche Ossee in Milan, and colleagues conducted a multicenter trial in two phases to investigate the effect of low bone mineral density treatment in children, adolescents, and young adults with cystic fibrosis. One hundred seventy-one patients (aged 5–30 years) were enrolled in an open-label 12-month observational study of the effect of adequate calcium intake plus calcifediol. In the second phase, 128 patients whose bone mineral apparent density had not increased by 5 percent or more in the observational phase were randomized to receive oral alendronate (65 patients) or placebo (63 patients).

The researchers found that 25% of patients experienced an increase in bone mineral apparent density with calcium and calcifediol in the first phase. In the randomized trial, bone mineral apparent density increased significantly more in the alendronate group (16.3%, vs. 3.1% in the placebo group). A normal-for-age bone mineral apparent density z score was attained by one-third of young people receiving alendronate.

“Correct calcium intake plus calcifediol can improve bone mineral density in some young patients with cystic fibrosis,” the authors write. “In those who do not respond to calcium and calcifediol alone, alendronate can safely and effectively increase bone mineral density.”

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