Maternal and child factors associated with bone length traits in children at 3 years of age
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BACKGROUND: Exposure to sub-optimal maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy has been linked to inadequate in utero bone growth with potential for post-natal deficits, but reported findings are inconsistent. Possible reasons include measurement error in assessing bone length/height, or lack of adjustment for confounding variables such as maternal/infant diet, physical activity and season of birth. The objective of this study was to determine the maternal and child factors associated with bone length traits in children at 3 years of age as part of a longitudinal follow-up of a pregnancy cohort. METHODS: Mother-child dyads enrolled in the Family Atherosclerosis Monitoring In early Life study were included. Maternal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration was measured by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Anthropometry, physical activity by questionnaire and dietary assessment by food frequency questionnaire were completed for mothers during pregnancy (27-40 weeks gestation) and for children at 3 years with diet by 3-day food records (Nutritionist Pro). Whole body bone mineral density in mother and child (n = 473) was measured by dual-energy absorptiometry (DXA) at the 3 year visit. A software program was developed using MATLAB to derive bone length measurements from whole body DXA images using 8 long bones of each child. Association between maternal and child variables with offspring bone length was assessed using unadjusted and adjusted multivariate linear regression analyses. RESULTS: In the final adjusted multivariate regression model, factors associated with child bone length were maternal height (p = 0.05), child birth length (p = 0.005) and child weight z-score at 3 years (p < 0.001). No association was observed between maternal serum 25(OH)D concentrations in pregnancy (of which 77% were in normal range) and child bone length. CONCLUSION: In healthy Canadian mothers and their children, the factors associated with child bone length achieved at 3 years of age appear to be related to genetic traits rather than environmental exposures. Measures of the length of long bones in children using DXA scans may have provided a more accurate assessment of bone length than whole body height measures.
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