Purpose: To verify the applicability of the prediction equation for maturity offset in a sample of female gymnasts followed longitudinally through adolescence.
Methods: Fifteen gymnasts were followed longitudinally for 6-7 yr across adolescence. Weight, height, and sitting height were measured at annual intervals. The Preece-Baines Model I was fitted to longitudinal height data for individual gymnasts to derive age at peak height velocity (PHV). The curve-fitting protocol was successfully fit to the height records of 13 of the 15 gymnasts with standard errors of estimate between 0.02 and 0.28 cm. Maturity offset was calculated from measurements taken at each observation for the 13 gymnasts and also added to chronological age at each observation point to provide an estimated age at PHV. Age at PHV derived with the Preece-Baines model was used as the criterion. Differences between the criterion age at PHV and predicted age at PHV were calculated.
Results: Maturity offset overestimates age at PHV in gymnasts. Mean predicted ages at PHV deviate linearly from the criterion age at PHV, but the difference is significant only at 9 yr. Correlations between maturity offset predicted ages at PHV and criterion age at PHV range from -0.13 to +0.76. The Bland-Altman plot of criterion and predicted ages at PHV suggest a systematic bias in the predictions.
Conclusion: Maturity offset appears to have limitations when applied to female gymnasts. Care is warranted in utilizing maturity offset per se and predicted age at PHV based on maturity offset as an indicator of maturity timing in female gymnasts and perhaps other short females.