Date Published: 3 February 2012
Early bone growth linked to bone density in later life
Recent medical research indicates that early bone growth is associated with bone density in later life. The recent study by researchers at Southampton University (England) in collaboration with a research group on New Delhi (India) has shown that growth in early childhood can affect bone density in adult life, which could affect the liklihood of developing bone diseases like such as osteoporosis.
Over the past 10 years Professor Caroline Fall of the Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at Southampton University and the team in Delhi have studied the relationship between height and body mass index (BMI) during childhood and adult gealth outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and now bone mineral content (BMC) and bone density.
The study relates measurements of bone mass and density at the lumbar spine, femoral neck and forearm to birth size and childhood weight and height growth among 565 men and women from the New Delhi Birth Cohort. Measurements show that size at birth and height growth during early childhood contribute significantly to adult bone mass, while BMI in later childhood was positively related to adult bone density. Thuis information suggests that nutrition in childhood is an important determinant of adult bone health and in the prevention of developing bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis causes some of the struts within the bone to become thin making it more fragile and prone to break even after a minor bump or fall. Half of women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone mainly because of osteoporosis, the most common cause of pathological fractures.
Professor Fall said:
" The risk of osteoporotic fracture depends on two factors: the mechanical strength of bone and the forces applied to it. We know that bone mass is an established determinant of bone strength and adult bone mass depends upon the peak attained during skeletal growth and the subsequent rate of bone loss. Peak bone mass is partly inherited, but environmental and lifestyle factors do play a part too. If we can improve childhood nutrition and that of the mother while pregnant, the risk of bone disease in later life can be reduced."
Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton, added:
" This study emphasises the huge benefits of studying cohorts in both developed and developing populations, which permit the opportunity to explore the early origins of common chronic disorders such as osteoporosis."
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