In growing children, lumbar and femoral areal bone mineral density (aBMD), as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), is influenced by skeletal growth and bone size. Correction of lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) for bone volume (volumetric BMD [vBMD]), by the use of mathematical extrapolations, reduces the confounding effect of bone size, but vBMD remains dependent on age and bone size during growth. Femoral (neck and mid-shaft) vBMD, assessed by DXA, is independent of age prior to puberty, but a slight increase occurs in late puberty and after menarche. Femoral (mid-shaft) cortical bone density and radial cortical and trabecular bone densities, assessed by quantitative computed tomography (QCT), show no peak during childhood or adolescence. Bone strength index, calculated by peripheral QCT, increases with age and correlates with handgrip strength, bone cross-sectional area and cortical area. Puberty is one of the main factors that influences lumbar bone mineral content and aBMD accumulation, but a high incidence of fractures occurs during this period of life, which may be associated with a reduced aBMD.
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