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J Clin Densitom. 2001 Summer;4(2):147-57.

Sex differences in bone mass acquisition during growth: the Fels Longitudinal Study.

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  • 1Division of Human Biology, Wright State University School of Medicine, Dayton, OH, USA.


Risk of osteoporosis in later life may be determined during adolescence and young adulthood. The present study used longitudinal data to examine the accumulation of bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) in Caucasian subjects ages 6-36 yr. Growth in BMC and BMD (measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry; Lunar, Madison, WI) of 94 males and 92 females was monitored for a mean period of 4.29 yr. The main findings were that there were no sex differences in BMC or BMD during the prepubertal stage; however, females had significantly higher BMD of the pelvis and BMC and BMD of the spine during puberty, and postpubertal males generally had significantly higher BMC and BMD than their female counterparts. In addition, the longitudinal rate of bone accumulation in both sexes increased rapidly during childhood and adolescence and was nearly complete at the end of puberty. Finally, peak BMC and BMD was achieved between the ages of 20 and 25 and occurred earlier in females than in males. The rates of growth and timing of peak bone mass as reported here define the crucial period during which intervention protocols should be developed for maximizing skeletal mass to prevent the development of osteoporosis.

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