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Keywords:

  • DUAL-ENERGY X-RAY ABSORPTIOMETRY;
  • INFANTS;
  • CHILDREN;
  • BONE MINERAL CONTENT;
  • BONE DENSITY

Abstract

Little is known about factors that affect bone mass and density of infants and toddlers and the means to assess their bone health owing to challenges in studying this population. The objectives of this study were to describe age, sex, race, growth, and human milk feeding effects on bone mineral content (BMC) and areal density (aBMD) of the lumbar spine, and determine precision of BMC and aBMD measurements. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 307 healthy participants (63 black), ages 1 to 36 months. BMC and aBMD of the lumbar spine were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Duplicate scans were obtained on 76 participants for precision determination. Age-specific Z-scores for aBMD, weight, and length (BMDZ, WAZ, LAZ) were calculated. Information on human milk feeding duration was ascertained by questionnaire. Between ages 1 and 36 months, lumbar spine BMC increased about fivefold and aBMD increased twofold (p < 0.0001). BMC was greater (5.8%) in males than in females (p = 0.001), but there was no difference in aBMD (p = 0.37). There was no difference in BMC or aBMD between whites and blacks (p ≥ 0.16). WAZ and LAZ were positively associated with BMDZ (r = 0.34 and 0.24, p < 0.001). Duration of human milk feeding was negatively associated with BMDZ in infants <12 months of age (r = −0.42, p < 0.001). Precision of BMC and aBMD measurements was good, 2.20% and 1.84%, respectively. Dramatic increases in BMC and aBMD of the lumbar spine occur in the first 36 months of life. We provide age-specific values for aBMD of healthy infants and toddlers that can be used to evaluate bone deficits. Future studies are needed to identify the age when sex and race differences in aBMD occur, and how best to account for delayed or accelerated growth in the context of bone health assessment of infants and toddlers. © 2013 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research