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Abstract

The weight, density and percentage ash weight of the dry, fat-free osseous human skeleton have been examined from 16 weeks of gestation to 100 years of age. Data were drawn from 426 skeletons of American Whites and Negroes of both sexes.

Weight increases exponentially in the fetus and continues to increase to early adulthood, most rapidly in the second decade. A decrease appears about the fourth decade and continues gradually. Estimated loss in skeletal weight throughout the adult period is, on the average, 15.6 gm per year. Proportionate contributions of divisions of the skeleton to its total weight change with age.

Densities of bones follow the changing weight pattern. Volume and weight increase concomitantly to adulthood, when weight decreases but not volume.

Percentage ash weight increases slightly in the total skeleton and in some bones during the fetal period, with no significant trend thereafter, indicating that change in weight of a dry, fat-free bone is accompanied by change in ash weight.

Race and sex differences are not evident in the fetal skeleton, but become marked by the second decade of life: Negro skeletons exceed White skeletons and male skeletons exceed female skeletons in mean weight and density and, to a lesser degree, in percentage ash weight.