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J Bone Miner Res. 2017 Dec;32(12):2355-2366. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3279. Epub 2017 Oct 9.

Ethnic Differences in Peripheral Skeletal Development Among Urban South African Adolescents: A Ten-Year Longitudinal pQCT Study.

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Medical Research Council (MRC) Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.


There are no longitudinal pQCT data of bone growth and development from sub-Saharan Africa, where rapid environmental, societal, and economic transitions are occurring, and where fracture rates are predicted to rise. The aim of this study was to compare skeletal development in black and white South African adolescents using longitudinal data from the Birth to Twenty study. The Birth to Twenty Bone Health subcohort consisted of 543 adolescents (261 [178 black] girls, 282 [201 black] boys). Annual pQCT measurements of the radial and tibial metaphysis and diaphysis were obtained between ages 12 and 22 years (distal metaphysis: cross-sectional area [CSA] and trabecular bone mineral density [BMD]; diaphysis: total and cortical CSA, cortical BMD, and polar stress-strain index [SSIp]). Age at peak height velocity (APHV) was calculated to account for differences in maturational timing between ethnic groups and sexes. Mixed-effects models were used to describe trajectories for each pQCT outcome. Likelihood-ratio tests were used to summarize the overall difference in trajectories between black and white participants within each sex. APHV (mean ± SD years) was similar in black (11.8 ± 0.8) and white (12.2 ± 1.0) girls, but delayed in black (14.2 ± 1.0) relative to white boys (13.3 ± 0.8). By 4 years post-APHV, white adolescents had significantly greater cortical CSA and SSIp than black adolescents at the radius. There were no significant differences at the radial metaphysis but there was some divergence, such that black adolescents had greater radial trabecular BMD by the end of follow-up. At the tibia, white adolescents had lower diaphyseal CSA and SSIp, and greater metaphyseal CSA. There was no ethnic difference in tibial trabecular BMD. There are ethnic differences in bone growth and development, independent of maturation, in South African adolescents. This work gives new insights into the possible etiology of childhood fractures, which occur most commonly as peripheral sites. © 2017 The Authors. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research Published by Wiley Periodicals Inc.



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