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Keywords:

  • Adolescence;
  • anthropometry;
  • bone age;
  • bone mineral;
  • child;
  • growth

The tempo and change in bone growth during puberty in relation to physical growth is described in a cohort of 56 boys and 52 girls. Distal forearm bone width, mineral content and volumetric density, anthropometry and pubertal status were measured at ages 11, 13, 15 and 17 y, and bone age at 17 y. Bone width and mineral content increased independently with age for each pubertal stage. Volumetric density fell during early puberty and then increased rapidly. Maximal increase of all bone variables occurred earlier in girls than in boys and earliest for bone width, then mineral content, then density. In girls most change occurred in the 12 mo before and after menarche. The degree of tracking was similar to that for height. Bone growth followed physical growth but at a slower tempo. By age 17 y boys had attained 86% of the reference adult bone mineral content and volumetric density; girls had attained 93% of the reference adult bone mineral content and 94% of volumetric density. Those skeletally mature at 17 y had greater mineral content and volumetric density. To maximize peak bone mass, modifiable environmental factors should be optimized before the onset of puberty and be maintained throughout this period of rapid growth and beyond attainment of sexual maturity.