Children who reach puberty early have stronger bones in early adulthood – study

Researchers have found differences in bone density levels among 25-year-olds, with the bones of those who started puberty earlier denser
Jemma Crew (PA)

CHILDREN who reach puberty early have been shown to have stronger bones in early adulthood. Researchers from the University of Bristol found "persisting differences" in bone density levels of 25-year-olds, depending on when they started puberty.

This puts those who develop later at greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life, they warned.

They looked at six repeated bone scans of 6,389 children over 15 years as they grew up, went through puberty and entered early adulthood.

Teenagers who had their pubertal growth spurt later than their peers had a lower bone density than average for several years into adulthood, the analysis found.

Males and females who reached puberty the latest had 0.054 g/cm2 lower bone mineral density at age 25 when compared with those who started earliest. But they were able to partially "catch up" with their peers because they gained bone mineral density faster in comparison.

Peak bone mass at the end of the teenage growth spurts is considered to be an indication of later risk of fracture and osteoporosis.

Lead author and senior research associate in Epidemiology, Dr Ahmed Elhakeem, said: "I'd like to see more advice available for people who reach puberty later on measures they can take to strengthen their bones."

The research is published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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