Secular trends in the incidence of postmenopausal vertebral fractures.
Cooper C., Atkinson EJ., Kotowicz M., O'Fallon WM., Melton LJ.
Several studies suggest secular increases in hip fracture incidence through this century, but little is known about such trends for vertebral fracture. We have examined changes in the incidence of clinically ascertained vertebral fractures among Rochester, Minnesota residents aged 35-69 years, that were first diagnosed between 1950 and 1989. Our results indicate no overall increase in incidence over the 40-year period. Categorization of fractures according to the level of preceding trauma, however, revealed a significant increase in the incidence of fractures following moderate trauma among women aged 60-69 years. This increase occurred between 1950 and 1964, and leveled off thereafter. Rates for severe trauma fractures among postmenopausal women, and for vertebral fractures from any cause among younger men and women, remained stable. The rise in moderate trauma fractures in postmenopausal women paralleled that for hip fractures in Rochester and began to plateau at around the same time. It might have resulted from increased diagnosis of vertebral fractures, but the increase in hip fracture incidence is inconsistent with this explanation. An increase in the prevalence of osteoporosis, however, might account for the trend in both types of fractures.