Birth weight predicts bone size in young adulthood at cortical sites in men and trabecular sites in women from The Gambia

Stephanie de Bono, Inez Schoenmakers, Mustapha Ceesay, Michael Mendy, M. Ann Laskey, Tim J. Cole, Ann Prentice

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Fracture risk is determined by bone mass, size and architecture. Birth weight (Bwt) is reported to predict adult bone mass and density. Early life environment may therefore be a determinant of bone strength in later life. However such evidence was obtained using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which is known to be dependent on size.

We used peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) and DXA to investigate Bwt as a determinant of bone size and cross section area (CSA), bone mineral content (BMC) and volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) and areal BMD (aBMD) independent of current weight, height and age. The study population consisted of 68 males and 52 nulliparous females aged 17 to 21 years from Keneba, The Gambia. This population has a high prevalence of factors likely to influence skeletal development (poor nutrition, low calcium intake, late puberty and high physical activity).

Measures of bone size and CSA, BMC and BMD were obtained using pQCT (Stratec 2000; at 4% and 66% radius; 4% and 50% tibia) and DXA (Lunar DPX; spine, hip, forearm and whole body). Sequential univariable (influence of Bwt on bone variables) and multivariable linear regression analyses (influence of Bwt on bone variables after adjusting for current height, weight and age) were used to investigate the independent effects of Bwt and attained size. Analyses were performed separately by sex.

Bwt was a significant positive predictor of CSA at appendicular cortical sites in males and CSA and bone area at appendicular and most axial trabecular sites in females before and after adjustment for current height, weight and age. Bwt was not consistently related to BMC, vBMD or aBMD as measured by pQCT or DXA. Current weight was a positive predictor of aBMD and pQCT- and DXA-derived BMC in males and females. Height predicted aBMD and trabecular vBMD in males.

In summary, Bwt significantly predicted attained CSA at cortical sites in males and at trabecular sites in females. Current weight was a positive predictor of BMC and aBMD in both sexes. This suggests that pre-natal factors affecting fetal growth may influence adult bone strength independently of post-natal factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1316-1321
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010

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