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06-02-2012 | Bone health | Article

Childhood growth rate impacts adult bone measures


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MedWire News: The rate of growth during infancy and childhood has a significant impact on bone measurements such as mineral content in adult life, results of a longitudinal study show.

"Our data suggest that factors influencing growth and development in early life have implications for later fracture risk," Nikhil Tandon (All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi) and colleagues comment in Osteoporosis International.

Adult bone mass (a strength composite of bone size and volumetric mineral density) depends upon the peak attained during skeletal growth and the subsequent rate of bone loss. Peak bone mass is partly inherited, but genetic markers only explain a small proportion of the variation in individual bone mass and fracture risk.

Evidence is mounting that factors associated with earlier growth, in utero and in infancy, may have persisting influences on skeletal development, Tandon et al note.

In the current study the researchers analyzed data from The New Delhi Birth Cohort Study, which includes 565 men and women aged 33-39 years whose weight and height were recorded at birth and annually during infancy (0-2 years), childhood (2-11 years) and adolescence (11 years-adult).

Lumbar spine, femoral neck and forearm bone mineral content (BMC) was measured using dual X-ray absorptiometry, and lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral apparent density (BMAD) were calculated.

Tandon et al report that height gain during infancy, childhood, and adolescence correlated with adult BMC at all three sites.

Likewise body mass index (BMI) gain throughout infancy, childhood, and adolescence correlated positively with adult femoral neck BMC. Also, BMI gain from mid-childhood onwards was correlated with femoral neck and spine BMAD and these associations strengthened with increasing age at BMI measurement.

"These findings suggest that weight bearing could be a major influence on volumetric bone density," Tandon et al comment.

They add: "In developing countries like India, underweight and stunting in childhood are common, and interventions in early life aimed at preventing under-nutrition and promoting infant length gain could also have longer-term beneficial effects on bone health."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Andrew Czyzewski

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