Bone properties and skeletal maturity in adolescent males, as assessed by quantitative ultrasound
Braid, Sarah Anne.
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ABSTRACT Background: Previous studies have implied that weight-bearing, intense and prolonged physical activities optimize bone accretion during the grow^ing years. The majority of past inquiries have used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to examine bone strength and hand-wrist radiography to determine skeletal maturity in children. Recently, quantitative ultrasound (QUS) technologies have been developed to examine bone properties and skeletal maturity in a safe, noninvasive and cost-effective manner. Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare bone properties and skeletal maturity in competitive male child and adolescent athletes with minimallyactive, age-matched controls, using QUS technology. >. Methods: In total, 224 males were included in the study. The 115 pre-pubertal boys aged 10-12 years consisted of control, minimally-active children (n=34), soccer players (n=26), gymnasts (n=25) and hockey players (n=30). In addition, the 109 late-pubertal boys aged 14-16 years consisted of control, minimally-active adolescents (n=31), soccer players (n=30), gymnasts (n=17) and hockey players (n=31). The athletic groups were elite level players that predominantly trained year-round. Physical activity, nutrition and sports participation were assessed with various questionnaires. Anthropometries, such as height, weight and relative body fat percentage (BF%) were assessed using standard measures. Skeletal strength and age were evaluated using bone QUS. Lastly, salivary testosterone (sT) concentration was measured using Radioimmunoassay (RIA). Results: Within each age group, there were no significant differences between the activity groups in age and pubertal stage. An age effect was apparent in all variables, as expected. A sport effect was noted in all physical characteristics: the child and adolescent gymnasts were shorter and lighter than other sports groups. Adiposity was greater in the controls and in the hockey players. All child subjects were pubertal stage (fanner) I or II, while adolescent subjects were pubertal stage IV or V. There were no differences in daily energy and mineral intakes between sports groups. In both age groups, gymnasts had a higher training volume than other athletic groups. Bone speed of sound (50s) was higher in adolescents compared with the children. Gymnasts had signifieantly higher radial 50S than controls, hockey and soccer players in both age cohorts. Hockey athletes also had higher radial 50S than controls and soccer players in the child and adolescent groups, respectiyely. Child gymnasts and soccer players had greater tibial 50S compared with the hockey players and control groups. Likewise, adolescent gymnasts and soccer players had higher tibial SoS compared with the control group. No interaction was apparent between age and type of activity in any of the bone measures. » Lastly, maturity as assessed by sT and secondary sex characteristics (Tanner stage) was not different between sports group within each age group. Despite the similarity in chronological age, androgen levels and sexual maturity, differences between activity groups were noted in skeletal maturity. In the younger group, hockey players had the highest bone age while the soccer players had the lowest bone age. In the adolescent group, gymnasts and hockey players were characterized by higher skeletal maturity compared with controls. An interaction between the age and sport type effects was apparent in skeletal maturity, reflecting the fact that among the children, the soccer players were significantly less mature than the rest of the groups, while in the adolescents, the controls were the least skeletally mature. Summary and Conclusions: In summary, radial and tibial SOS are enhanced by the unique loading pattern in each sport (i.e, upper and lower extremities in gymnastics, lower extremities in soccer), with no cumulative effect between childhood and adolescence. That is, the effect of sport participation on bone SOS was apparent already among the young athletes. Enhanced bone properties among athletes of specific sports suggest that participation in these sports can improve bone strength and potential bone health.