Total Body Bone Mineral Content and Tibial Cortical Bone Measures in Preschool Children



This study was undertaken to identify factors that influence total body bone area (TBBA), total body bone mineral content (TBBMC), and tibial cortical bone measures in 239 children aged 3–5 years. We obtained information on demographic and anthropometric characteristics and measurements of diet, physical activity, and strength. In multiple regression analysis, TBBA correlated with height (p < 0.001), weight (p < 0.001), percent body fat (p < 0.001), and calcium intake (p = 0.02). TBBMC correlated with TBBA (p < 0.001), age (p = 0.001), and weight (p = 0.02) and inversely correlated with height (p < 0.001) and percent body fat (p < 0.001). Children born preterm had lower TBBMC compared with children born at term (p = 0.02). Both periosteal and endosteal circumferences were correlated with weight (both, p < 0.001) and inversely correlated with age (p = 0.006 and p = 0.003, respectively) and percent body fat (p = 0.002 and p = 0.005 respectively). Endosteal circumference was greater and cortical bone area was lower in children born preterm compared with those born at term (both, p = 0.04). Findings of higher TBBA and lower TBBMC in children with high percent body fat indicate undermineralization of bone and suggest that obesity in preschool children may have detrimental effects on total body bone mass accretion. A smaller tibial periosteal circumference and thus cross-sectional area in children with the same weight but higher percent body fat also would lead to a biomechanical disadvantage in these children. Findings of low TBBMC and cortical bone area among children born preterm need to be confirmed in other populations. We speculate that differences in these measurements between children born preterm and at term may be caused by differences in activity.