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Growth Dev Aging. 1999 Autumn;63(3):99-109.

Correlations between skeletal muscle mass and bone mass in children 6-18 years: influences of sex, ethnicity, and pubertal status.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


A constant sex-specific relationship between skeletal muscle mass and bone mass was observed in healthy adults based on TBK/TBCa, using TBK (total body potassium) by 40K counting and TBCa (total body calcium) by in-vivo neutron activation analysis (Ellis and Cohn, 1975). We revisited this topic in children by studying correlations between TBK and TBCa, and by comparing TBK/TBCa between sexes, pubertal groups (prepubertal and pubertal) and ethnic groups in 141 white, 101 black, and 62 Asian healthy children, aged 6 - 18 years, living in New York City. TBK was measured by 40K counting, and TBCa by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. TBK and TBCa were significantly correlated from 6 to 18 years (r > 0.93), but the correlation equations varied by gender and ethnicity. Boys had significantly more TBK and greater TBK/TBCa than girls at a given age and weight, reflecting greater skeletal muscle mass in boys from 6 years, the age at which the study started. TBK/TBCa in blacks was significantly smaller than whites and Asians in both sexes in prepuberty and puberty, and pubertal black girls had the smallest mean TBK/TBCa. No significant differences were found between whites and Asians. TBK/TBCa decreased as body weight increased in prepubertal girls, and decreased as body weight and age increased in pubertal girls, but did not change with body weight or age in boys of any subgroup. The inverse relationship between TBK/TBCa and age in pubertal girls suggests greater increase in TBCa compared to TBK than in other groups, while the constant TBK/TBCa in boys reflects proportional increases in TBK and TBCa. Thus TBK/TBCa can be used as an index of relative growth in skeletal muscle mass and bone mass in white, black, and Asian children according to sex, age and pubertal status.

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