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We investigated relationships between placental size and offspring adolescent bone indices using a population-based, mother-offspring cohort. The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) recruited pregnant women from the southwest of England between 1991 and 1993. There were 12,942 singleton babies born at term who survived at least the first 12 months. From these, 8933 placentas were preserved in formaldehyde, with maternal permission for their use in research studies. At the approximate age of 15.5 years, the children underwent a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan (measurements taken of the whole body minus head bone area [BA], bone mineral content [BMC], and areal bone mineral density [aBMD]). A peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) scan (Stratec XCT2000L; Stratec, Pforzheim, Germany) at the 50% tibial site was performed at this visit and at approximately age 17.7 years. In 2010 a sample of 1680 placentas were measured and photographed. To enable comparison of effect size across different variables, predictor and outcome variables were standardized to Z-scores and therefore results may be interpreted as partial correlation coefficients. Complete placental, DXA, and pQCT data were available for 518 children at age 15.5 years. After adjustment for gender, gestational age at birth, and age at time of pQCT, the placental area was positively associated with endosteal circumference (β [95% CI]: 0.21 [0.13, 0.30], p < 0.001), periosteal circumference (β [95% CI]: 0.19 [0.10, 0.27], p < 0.001), and cortical area (β [95% CI]: 0.10 [0.01, 0.18], p = 0.03), and was negatively associated with cortical density (β [95% CI]: -0.11 [-0.20, -0.03], p = 0.01) at age 15.5 years. Similar relationships were observed for placental volume, and after adjustment for additional maternal and offspring covariates. These results suggest that previously observed associations between placental size and offspring bone development persist into older childhood, even during puberty, and that placental size is differentially related to bone size and volumetric density. © 2016 The Authors. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR).

Original publication




Journal article


J bone miner res

Publication Date





1855 - 1864


ASLPAC, BONE MASS, DXA, EPIDEMIOLOGY, OSTEOPOROSIS, PLACENTA, pQCT, Absorptiometry, Photon, Adolescent, Adult, Bone Density, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Organ Size, Placenta, Pregnancy, Prospective Studies, Tibia, Tomography, X-Ray Computed