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Undernutrition and other adverse influences arising in fetal life or immediately after birth have a permanent effect on body structure, physiology and metabolism. Evidence is now accumulating from human studies that programming of bone growth might be an important contributor to the later risk of osteoporotic fracture. Body weight in infancy is a determinant of adult bone mineral content, as well as of the basal levels of activity of the GH/IGF-1 and HPA axes, and recent work has suggested a central role for vitamin D. Epidemiological studies have suggested that maternal smoking and nutrition during pregnancy influence intrauterine skeletal mineralization. Finally, childhood growth rates have been directly linked to the risk of hip fracture many decades later. Further work is needed to use this approach to develop novel therapeutic and preventative strategies to reduce the burden of osteoporotic fractures in the population.

Type

Journal article

Journal

The journal of the British Menopause Society

Publication Date

03/2004

Volume

10

Pages

14 - 29

Addresses

MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK.

Keywords

Humans, Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal, Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Hip Fractures, Smoking, Pregnancy, Female, Nutritional Physiological Phenomena