The work of Dr. Anne-Marie Kaulfers, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was published in this week's (March 28) "Pediatrics," the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study, titled "Bone Loss in Adolescents After Bariatric Surgery" and co-authored by Dr. Kaulfers, focused on evaluating bone loss in adolescents after bariatric surgery and determining the extent to which bone loss was related to weight loss.
Currently, 18.1 percent of adolescents are obese. "From 2000 to 2003, the amount of children who are getting gastric bypass surgery has increased 3-fold," said Dr. Kaulfers, who has training and experience in pediatric endocrinology. "This is an important topic, and pediatricians need to know how to handle this."
According to Dr. Kaulfers, the long-term consequences of gastric bypass surgery at such a young age are not well understood. Although adult studies have demonstrated a decrease in bone mass after the surgery, this is the first to look at bone mass changes in adolescents.
The results of this recent study found that bone density does decline in adolescents after gastric bypass surgery, but it did not fall below normal levels. The predicted bone density was appropriate for their age at two years' post surgery. However, Dr. Kaulfers explained that longer follow-up is warranted to determine if bone mass continues to change or stabilizes.
"It was reassuring that bone density levels didn't fall below normal, and we are cautiously optimistic that bone density would stabilize over time," Dr. Kaulfers said. "But, we don't really know what the effects will be long-term."
"After surgery, we recommend monitoring the bone density levels yearly, as well as monitoring Vitamin D status," she said. "The theory is that Vitamin D and other gut hormones change after surgery, which can be responsible for the bone loss."
Dr. Kaulfers, who has always had a strong interest in bone disease and hormones related to bone, said she is very excited with the attention the study has received. "I've worked on this project for several years, and it's great to see it come to fruition," she said. "Hopefully, this study will support children's health by providing insight."
Dr. Kaulfers earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans. She conducted her pediatric residency at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Ky. In addition, she completed a pediatric endocrinology fellowship at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati.
She is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society and the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society.
Dr. Kaulfers sees patients at the Children's Specialty Clinic on Spring Hill Avenue. To make an appointment, call (251) 405-5147.