Background: Calcium supplementation during childhood and adolescence increases bone-mass accrual. Whether or not this benefit persists after discontinuation of supplementation is not known. We previously showed a favourable effect of milk-extracted calcium phosphate incorporated in various foods on accumulation of bone mineral mass in 8-year-old girls. We now report the results of a follow-up study undertaken more than 3 years after the end of calcium supplementation.
Methods: Anthropometric and bone variables were measured in 116 of the 144 girls whose data had been studied at the end of the supplementation period. The mean time elapsed between the end of the intervention period and this follow-up measurement was 3.5 years. Areal bone mineral density was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at the same six skeletal sites as those studied during the intervention phase.
Findings: We were able to remeasure 62 and 54 girls of the calcium-supplemented and placebo groups, respectively. The increase from baseline in the overall mean bone mineral density of the six skeletal sites was still highly significant (calcium-supplemented group 179 mg/cm(2) [SE 8] vs placebo group 151 mg/cm(2) , p=0.012). A significant difference in favour of the supplemented group was also seen with respect to mean bone mineral content (p=0.031) and mean bone area (p=0.04). Difference in pubertal maturation did not seem to account for the recorded differences.
Interpretation: Our results suggest that this form of milk-extracted calcium phosphate taken during the prepubertal period can modify the trajectory of bone mass growth and cause a long-standing increase in bone mass accrual, which lasts beyond the end of supplementation.