Plan Ahead: Get Strong Bones as a Kid

Bone growth in early life means better adult bones

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Remember the old milk ad campaign? The ads showed a child drinking milk and growing into a strong teen. It turns out that early bone boost can last through an entire life.

Researchers have found that bone growth early in life has a direct effect on bone health in adulthood.

That means that kids who have strong bones are at less risk for osteoporosis, while children with low bone growth may experience fractures as they age.

"Get vitamin D and calcium for early bone growth."

The study was led by Dr. Caroline Fall of the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton, and conducted in collaboration with researchers in Delhi, India. The data was based on information from the New Delhi Birth Cohort, a long-running study established in 1969 in India.

The researchers picked 565 men and women aged 33–39 years from the study. The participants had entered the study as infants.

Their weight and height were measured and recorded periodically throughout their childhood, as well as information about their bone density and mass.

The researchers found that size and weight during early childhood contributed to the participants' bone mass in adulthood. Their body mass index (BMI) during later childhood was positively correlated with bone density.

Bone density and bone mass are used to measure risk for osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak bones and risk of fracture. If you have osteoporosis, a minor injury could cause a major bone fracture.

The study strengthens the evidence that childhood nutrition and health is an important factor determining adult bone health and osteoporosis risk.

Although there is inherited risk of osteoporosis, Dr. Fall emphasized the role of lifestyle in developing or preventing the condition.

Doctors recommend weight bearing exercise, as well as calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis and strengthen bones.

Osteoporosis is a rising health concern, worldwide. It's most common among post-menopausal women and older men.

The study is published online in the journal Osteoporosis International.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 3, 2012
Last Updated:
February 4, 2012