Aim: Differences in fracture risk between ethnic groups have been documented. The basis for these differences is yet incomplete and the age at what ethnic differences appear is uncertain. Assessment of bone health in pediatric populations could bring insights on factors compromising bone accrual. We describe here differences in total body bone mineral density (TB-BMD) in a unique setting of children of the same age, measured with the same device (iDXA) different ethnic background and in a well-defined geographic region.
Methods: The Generation R study is a prospective multiethnic birth cohort in Rotterdam, The Netherlands including in this study 6134 children visiting the research center at 6 years. Up to 45% of the children were of non-Dutch background and belonging to 15 ethnic groups (Dutch Central Office of Statistics) and regrouped into European, Asian and African descent. Differences in TB-BMD were assessed by multivariate regression with multiple comparisons of least-squares (LS) means using the Dutch/European population as reference, adjusting for age, gender, (followed by) fat mass, lean mass and height.
Results: TB-BMD was highest in groups of African descent and lower in groups of Asian descent as compared with Europeans when adjusting for gender and age. After adjustment for body height and lean mass, BMD levels in Asians were equal to Dutch and Europeans, while differences in children of African descents remained significantly higher even after correction for diverse lifestyle variables.
Conclusion: Ethnic differences in bone mass are already present in childhood. Lower BMD in Asian children (as compared to Dutch and Europeans) results from smaller skeletal frame size and adaptation to loading (i.e. lean mass); while the higher BMD in African children is independent of body size or loading. These findings provide further understanding into the differences in fracture risk observed at a given BMD value across ethnicities.
22 Jun 2013 - 25 Jun 2013