Late Puberty Increases Risk of Osteoporosis
By EGP News Wire
Later puberty results in lower bone mass and increases the risk of fractures and osteoporosis, researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles announced Jan. 28.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Vicente Gilsanz, director of Clinical Imaging at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, determined that the onset of puberty was the primary influence on adult bone mineral density, or bone strength.
Length of puberty was not found to affect bone density.
Reduced bone mineral density leads to osteoporosis, resulting in bones becoming increasingly brittle and at risk for fracture.
Osteoporosis is a significant public health issue, with the cost of treatment in 2010 estimated at $10 billion. The condition affects 55 percent of Americans aged 50 and older.
The Bone Mineral Density in Childhood Study is an ongoing multicenter study examining bone development in healthy children and teenagers of both sexes in the United States.
For this analysis, the investigators studied 78 girls and 84 boys who had just entered puberty, until they reached sexual maturity.
“Puberty has a significant role in bone development,” Gilanz said. “During this time, bones lengthen and increase in density. At the end of puberty, the epiphyseal plates close, terminating the ability of the bones to lengthen.
“When this occurs, the teenager has reached their maximum adult height and peak bone mass. We found that early puberty was associated with greater bone mass while later puberty resulted in less.”
Short children sometimes undergo medical intervention to delay puberty in an effort to achieve greater height. This study indicates that prolonging the growth period by delaying puberty may have unexpected consequences in later life, Gilanz said.
Given that the rate of decline of bone mass in adulthood is about 1 percent to 2 percent a year, a 10 percent to 20 percent increase in bone density resulting from a natural early puberty corresponds to an additional 10 to 20 years of protection against the normal age-related decline in bone strength.
February 3, 2011 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.