Gender differences in bone during childhood and adolescence are well described in countries with moderate to high calcium intakes; there are few data from countries where children have delayed puberty and low habitual calcium intakes. The aim of this study was to determine whether gender differences in bone and body composition exist in prepubertal Gambian children accustomed to a low calcium intake.
Four hundred and forty-seven prepubertal children (216 males, 231 females) were recruited between the ages of 7.8 and 11.9 years. Bone mineral content (BMC) and bone area (BA) were measured at whole body, lumbar spine, and hip using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (GE Lunar Prodigy). There were no significant differences between males and females in age, body weight, and height or body mass index.
Gender differences existed in BMC and BA both before and after size adjustment. Body composition also differed between males and females. Regular follow-up measurements in these children have commenced to assess whether these differences persist during and after puberty and implications for future bone health.
Children Africa Males Females Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry Bone mineral content Bone area Growth Body composition • Calcium intake
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We wish to thank all the other members of the Calcium, Vitamin D, and Bone Health team at MRC Keneba and Jenny Thompson and Dee Harnpanich in the Nutrition and Bone Health Group at MRC Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge. We also wish to thank the participants and their families. The work was funded by the UK Medical Research Council under programs U105960371 and U123261351.
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