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MONTREAL, MAY  10,  2010 – The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and researchers and medical experts from CHU Sainte-Justine (University Hospital Centre) have announced the results from a two-year  groundbreaking   study on  adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), which concluded last fall.

Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. It affects four out of every 100 people, mainly girls. For a small number of people, the curve gets worse as they grow and they may need a brace or an operation to correct it. AIS is the most frequent known disease associated with musculo-skeletal deformities. The most common form of scoliosis is unclear, although AIS is a disease affecting an important number of adolescents (0.2 to 6 percent of the population) and affecting mainly girls in number and severity. Sainte-Justine’s orthopaedic clinic sees 2,500 patients every year who need a medical follow-up every three to six months, associated sometimes with bracing and/or surgery. This spinal deformity is called idiopathic because it remains unclear as how it develops. There is no proven method or test available right now to identify children or adolescents at risk of developing AIS or to identify which of the affected individuals are at risk of progression.

The research was conducted at the Molecular Genetics Laboratory (bone and musculoskeletal deformities) at the Research Center of CHU Sainte-Justine, affiliated to the Université de Montréal, under the direction of Dr. Alain Moreau. He has developed the first known  diagnostic test related to scoliosis. Dr. Moreau is also working on the development of new therapeutic approaches for the prevention and treatment of idiopathic scoliosis.

With the collaboration of the EMSB, 116 students from 17 schools volunteered to be part of the research project. Two nurses and one orthopedic surgeon from the hospital conducted the school visits.

Members of the Ste- Justine team made four visits to each school over the two year period.  The test itself involved an external exam of the spine and   blood tests every six months, which were analyzed at the Molecular Genetics Laboratory  of the  CHU Sainte-Justine. If an indication of scoliosis was detected, cases were referred to one of the three hospitals affiliated with the study: the CHU Saint-Justine, the Montreal Children’s Hospital or the Shriners Hospital. There were  seven students detected with a scoliosis and they were seen at one of the hospitals.

A letter will soon be sent out to each family which had a child as part of the study. There will be no follow-up to this research as for now, but in the meantime, anyone whose child has shoulder height asymmetry, in which one shoulder appears higher than the other,are being encouraged to  communicate  with the clinical coordinator of this project  Ginette Lacroix.

The team from the CHU Sainte-Justine would like to extend its gratitude to the families and all of the children who took part in the research, as well as the personnel from the different schools for their enthusiastic cooperation.

Students from the following schools participated:  Dalkeith in Anjou, Dante,  Laurier Macdonald  and John Paul I in St. Léonard,  Leonardo DaVinci in RDP,  Elizabeth Ballantyne in Montreal West, Edward Murphy in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Gerald McShane in Montreal North,  Pierre Elliott Trudeau, St. Brendan and  Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount,  Royal Vale and  Willingdon in N.D.G.,  Roslyn in Westmount, Royal West Academy in Montreal North, Westmount High School, Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North and LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent.


Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213