• cohort;
  • growth trajectory;
  • bone strength;
  • bone area;
  • BMD


There is growing evidence that early growth influences bone mass in later life but most studies are limited to birth weight and/or early infant growth and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) measurements. In a British birth cohort study with prospective measures of lifetime height and weight, we investigated the growth trajectory in relation to bone in males (M) and females (F) at 60 to 64 years old. Outcomes were DXA measures of hip and spine areal bone density (aBMD) (n = 1658) and pQCT measures of distal and diaphyseal radius cross-sectional area (CSA), strength, and volumetric bone density (vBMD) (n = 1350 of the 1658). Regression models examined percentage change in bone parameters with standardized measures of birth weight, height, and weight. A series of conditional growth models were fitted for height and weight gain (using intervals: birth–2, 2–4, 4–7, 7–15, 15–20, 20–36, and 36–64 years) and height gain (using intervals: 2–4, 4–7, 7–15, and 15–36 years). Birth weight was positively related to bone CSA (M: 1.4%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.3%–2.5%; F: 1.3%; 95% CI, 0.3%–2.4% per 1 SD increase in birth weight for diaphyseal CSA) and strength (M: 1.8%; 95% CI, 0.3–3.4; F: 2.0%; 95% CI, 0.5–3.5). No positive associations were found with trabecular, total, or cortical vBMD. One SD change in prepubertal and postpubertal height and weight velocities were associated with between 2% and 5% greater bone CSA and strength. Height gain in later years was negatively associated with trabecular vBMD. Weight gain velocity during the adult years was positively associated with up to 4% greater trabecular and total BMD, and 4% greater aBMD at hip and spine. In a cohort born in the early post-war period, higher birth weight, gaining weight and height faster than others, particularly through the prepubertal and postpubertal periods, was positively related to bone strength, mostly through greater bone CSA, at 60 to 64 years. © 2014 The Authors. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.