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Glucosamine in Kids

By Mary Kelly

Glucosamine is a substance found naturally in healthy cartilage, which is the padding between the bones of your joints. It is also manufactured as a supplement and can be purchased in drug stores and health food stores. Glucosamine supplements are used mainly to treat osteoarthritis, often in combination with chondroitin, which is another substance that is made both naturally and manufactured as a supplement.

Is Glucosamine Safe?

Glucosamine has been tested on adults for many years and studies suggest that it is safe to use. Side effects reported are mostly mild, and include upset stomach, gas, indigestion, diarrhea and heartburn. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, there is not enough evidence to support the use of glucosamine in children younger than 18 years of age. It is currently unknown what the effects of this supplement might be on children.

Children Playing Sports

Since glucosamine is used mainly to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and to slow the progression of osteoarthritis in adults, some theorized that children might take the supplement if they are active in sports to reduce the possibility of bone or joint injury. According to Children’s Memorial Hospital, this is not recommended, since there have not been enough studies conducted on children, and it is not known what the long-term of effects might be on the bones and joints of growing children.

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Allergic Reactions

Glucosamine is usually derived from shellfish, so if you have shellfish allergies, discuss this with your doctor before taking the supplement. Testing has not been conducted on children under 18 for allergic reactions to shellfish while taking glucosamine, but due to potential serious reactions, children who have allergies should not take it.

Other Side Effects

According to the Mayo Clinic, glucosamine is often marketed with MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane. Research suggests a possible link between the ingestion of MSM and autism. The relationship is still unclear, but glucosamine as a supplement, marketed with MSM, should be not be taken by children.

Considerations

Because it is clear that glucosamine has not been studied enough on children under age 18, it is not recommended for use on children. If you are concerned about your child avoiding injury while playing sports, Children’s Memorial Hospital recommends consulting with your physician. Determination of the child’s risk factor can be made, and an injury prevention program can be designed and implemented.

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