Earlier Puberty Tied to Greater Bone Mass

Length of puberty does not influence bone mass at skeletal maturity

THURSDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Bone mass and bone density in healthy adolescent males and females are inversely related to the age at which puberty starts, according to research published in the January issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

Vicente Gilsanz, M.D., Ph.D., from the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the relationship between the timing and duration of puberty and bone mineral content and density. They analyzed data from 78 girls and 85 boys who reached puberty and completed sexual and skeletal development during the Bone Mineral Density in Childhood Study. The investigators calculated bone mineral density and content using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

According to the investigators, from the onset of puberty, girls completed skeletal maturity after 4.4 ± 0.8 years and boys after 4.5 ± 0.8 years. They note that patient age at the onset of puberty was linked to the DXA measurement as a negative predictor upon skeletal maturity. This prediction was applicable to all skeletal sites in both sexes. Bone mineral content and density at the beginning of puberty or the duration of puberty did not influence bone measurements at skeletal maturity.

"Our findings indicate that minor delays in pubertal growth and maturation, even within the normal range, result in a deficit in peak bone mass, thus stressing the need for caution in the use of treatments aimed at prolonging the growth period, as they might result in reduced adult bone mass," the authors write.

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