Foetal and postnatal growth and bone mass at 6 months: the Generation R Study

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2011 Feb;74(2):181-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2010.03918.x.


Objective: To examine whether parental, foetal and postnatal characteristics and growth patterns in foetal life and infancy are associated with bone mass at 6 months, as bone acquisition seems to be associated with genetic and environmental factors.

Design: This study was embedded in the Generation R Study, a prospective cohort from early foetal life onwards.

Patients and measurements: Bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) total body (TB) and BMD lumbar spine (LS) were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in 252 infants at 6 months. Parental, foetal and postnatal data were collected by physical and foetal ultrasound examinations and questionnaires.

Results: Maternal, foetal and postnatal anthropometrics were positively associated with BMD(TB) and BMC(TB) at 6 months, but only postnatal anthropometrics were associated with BMD(LS) . A gain in weight-SD-score during foetal life and prenatal catch-up in weight were positively associated with BMD(TB) . After birth, a gain in weight-SD-score was positively associated with BMD(LS) and bone mineral apparent density (BMAD(LS) ). The effect was strongest between 6 weeks and 6 months. Catch-up in weight was associated with a lower probability of low (lowest quartile of) BMD(TB) and BMD(LS) . Children remaining in the first tertile of weight from birth to 6 months had a much higher risk of low BMD(TB) at 6 months [OR (95% CI): 15 (2, 88)].

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that growth patterns in foetal and postnatal life are associated with bone mass in infancy and may have consequences for bone mass in later life. Follow-up studies are needed to assess whether and to what extent maternal anthropometrics, foetal and postnatal growth patterns have an effect on bone status in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires