Researchers have found rare genetic changes greatly increase the likelihood of a child having higher bone density. However, this only applies to girls.
“We decided to investigate whether the gene variants that affect bone density in adults also affect bone density in children,” said study co-author Jonathan Mitchell, PhD, pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
“We found that in children this effect was even stronger than in adults, but only in girls,” he added.
A team of researchers led by Babette Zemel and Struan Grant analyzed data from 1,418 children and adolescents (733 girls and 685 boys).
The researchers found the rare gene variant EN1, responsible for the increase in bone density in adults, and also in children, but only in girls.
“Our study confirmed the importance of strengthening bone health in childhood and adolescence, when there is increasing bone density,” Zemel said.
“As these gene variants occur in the early stages of life, they can have a significant impact on bone health in adulthood. These results open new possibilities for potential interference mechanisms for increasing bone density,” the researchers concluded.
The study was published in “Journal of Bone and Mineral Research”.