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Endosteal bone storage in young adults born small for gestational age – a study using peripheral quantitative computed tomography

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Objective  Poor growth early in life is associated with numerous adverse conditions including decreased bone mass. The aim is to investigate bone and body composition in young adults born small for gestational age (SGA).

Design  Observational study.

Participants  A total of 76 young adults born SGA (34f) at a mean age of 19·68 ± 0·5 years were enrolled.

Method  Bone mineral density (BMD), bone geometry and body composition were analysed using peripheral quantitative computed tomography.

Results  Adults born SGA had significantly lower z‐score for height (−0.86 ± 0·87), weight (−0·61 ± 0·78) and BMI (−0·38 ± 1·04) as well as fat cross‐sectional area (CSA) (−0·62 ± 0·80) compared with a healthy reference population (P < 0·05). Z‐scores for trabecular and cortical BMD were normal. After correction for reduced height, z‐scores for total CSA (−0·14 ± 1·11) and muscle CSA (−0·21 ± 0·99) were normal and medullary cavity (−0·71 ± 0·80) was reduced. Those with a birthweight of ≤1500 g had even lower height‐corrected z‐scores for medullary cavity (−1·12 ± 0·69) and total bone CSA (−0·58 ± 0·93) (P < 0·05). After adjustment for sex and weight, significant partial correlations were detectable between BMI at the age of 48 months and height‐corrected z‐scores for medullary cavity (r = 0·33, P = 0·020) and total CSA (r = 0·29, P = 0·04).

Conclusion  Environmental factors early in life seem to influence bone geometry in adulthood. Young adults born SGA have normal total bone CSA but smaller medullary cavity. Those with very low birthweight, however, show compromised bone size development that may alter bone stability later in life.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology, University Children’s Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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