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Bone Age: A Handy Tool for Pediatric Providers

Ana L Creo, W Frederick Schwenk
Pediatrics 2017, 140 (6)
29141916
Pediatricians have relied on methods for determining skeletal maturation for >75 years. Bone age continues to be a valuable tool in assessing children's health. New technology for bone age determination includes computer-automated readings and assessments obtained from alternative imaging modalities. In addition, new nonclinical bone age applications are evolving, particularly pertaining to immigration and children's rights to asylum. Given the significant implications when bone ages are used in high-stake decisions, it is necessary to recognize recently described limitations in predicting accurate age in various ethnicities and diseases. Current methods of assessing skeletal maturation are derived from primarily white populations. In modern studies, researchers have explored the accuracy of bone age across various ethnicities in the United States. Researchers suggest there is evidence that indicates the bone ages obtained from current methods are less generalizable to children of other ethnicities, particularly children with African and certain Asian backgrounds. Many of the contemporary methods of bone age determination may be calibrated to individual populations and hold promise to perform better in a wider range of ethnicities, but more data are needed.

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