Bone Mineral Accretion in Young Children

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Investigator: John A. Shepherd, PhD
Sponsor: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Med Ctr

Location(s): United States

Description

This study seeks to understand bone mineral accrual in children 1 to 5 years of age. Many young children have chronic medical conditions that threaten bone health and increase their susceptibility to fractures. Over the last 10 years our team at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) has helped develop reference data that have enabled clinicians to identify children 5 to 20 y with low bone density for age and optimize their medical care. A glaring deficit is the inability to evaluate bone health of young children < 5 y due to lack of appropriate bone density reference data. This gap is problematic as there are numerous clinical conditions (e.g., neuromuscular disease, cancer, glucocorticoid treatment, extreme prematurity) that threaten bone health in this young age group.

The primary goal of our new study is to develop bone mass and density reference data to aid identification of children 1 to 5 years of age with bone deficits. A first step is to characterize the age-related changes in bone accrual at multiple skeletal sites and determine when sex and race differences in bone mass and density emerge.

The second goal of this study is to assess the influence of growth, body composition, gross motor skills and physical activity on bone mineral accrual in young children. In older children, the need to account for growth and lean mass when interpreting bone measurements has been demonstrated. The best way to do this in young children is unknown. Pronounced changes in gross motor skills, locomotion and physical activity also occur during early childhood. It is well appreciated that mechanical loads on the growing skeleton promote bone mineral accrual. but how gross motor skills and physical activity impact bone development in children 1 to 5 years of age is unknown. Understanding the impact of growth, body composition, motor skill development, and physical activity on bone accrual in young children is important for interpretation of clinical bone density measurements. These characteristics are often affected in young children with chronic medical conditions.

This study will enroll 520 healthy children between 1 to 5 years of age; half will be recruited at CCHMC and half at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

This study is unique since no previous studies have addressed these issues in children 1-5 y. It is clinically relevant as findings will facilitate medical care of children with chronic medical conditions that threaten bone health, and it will develop and validate novel methods for bone and body composition assessment in this age range. It will also add generalizable knowledge to enhance understanding of the growing skeleton, and its relationship to motor and somatic development. Since poor bone mineral accrual can have lifelong consequences, this study addresses the major public health concern of osteoporosis.