Familial resemblance of bone mineral density (BMD) and calcaneal ultrasound attenuation: the BMD in mothers and daughters study

J Bone Miner Res. 1999 Jan;14(1):102-10. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.1999.14.1.102.


The familial resemblance in bone mineral density (BMD) and calcaneal broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) was examined in 207 mother-daughter pairs. Mothers were participants in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. Three groups of daughters were recruited based on their maternal history of "fracture," "low BMD" without fracture (< 0.58 g/cm2, t-score < -2.5), and "normal BMD" without fracture (> 0.67 g/cm2, t-score > -1.6). Data on other potentially heritable factors known to influence BMD and BUA were also collected. BMD was measured at the hip, spine, whole body, and calcaneus. Calcaneal BUA was assessed using the Walker-Sonix UBA 575. Total hip and femoral neck BMD were significantly lower (5.0-8.0%, p < 0.017) among daughters, in particular premenopausal daughters, of mothers with established osteoporosis ("fracture" or "low BMD") compared with daughters of mothers at lower risk of osteoporosis ("normal BMD"). BUA did not differ across daughter groups. Lifestyle characteristics (dietary calcium, smoking, physical activity) were not highly correlated in mothers and daughters. Height, weight, and body composition were significantly correlated within mother-daughter pairs and could be a potential mechanism by which BMD is inherited. Among pre- and postmenopausal daughters, heritability estimates ranged from 50-63% and 34-48%, respectively. Heritability for calcaneal BUA (53%) was evident among postmenopausal daughters only. In conclusion, familial association in BMD was strongest among premenopausal daughters. Estimates of heritability suggest that maternal BMD and BUA are important independent predictors of BMD and BUA among daughters, reinforcing the importance of prevention and early intervention among women with a positive family history of osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition / genetics
  • Bone Density / genetics*
  • Calcaneus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone / genetics
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / genetics*
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultrasonography