Archives of Osteoporosis

, 12:54 | Cite as

The influence of birth weight and length on bone mineral density and content in adolescence: The Tromsø Study, Fit Futures

  • Tore ChristoffersenEmail author
  • Luai A. Ahmed
  • Anne Kjersti Daltveit
  • Elaine M. Dennison
  • Elin K. Evensen
  • Anne-Sofie Furberg
  • Luis Gracia-Marco
  • Guri Grimnes
  • Ole-Andreas Nilsen
  • Berit Schei
  • Grethe S. Tell
  • Dimitris Vlachopoulos
  • Anne Winther
  • Nina Emaus
Original Article



The influence of birth weight and length on bone mineral parameters in adolescence is unclear. We found a positive association between birth size and bone mineral content, attenuated by lifestyle factors. This highlights the impact of environmental stimuli and lifestyle during growth.


The influence of birth weight and length on bone mineral density and content later in life is unclear, especially in adolescence. This study evaluated the impact of birth weight and length on bone mineral density and content among adolescents.


We included 961 participants from the population-based Fit Futures study (2010–2011). Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to measure bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) at femoral neck (FN), total hip (TH) and total body (TB). BMD and BMC measures were linked with birth weight and length ascertained from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway. Linear regression models were used to investigate the influence of birth parameters on BMD and BMC.


Birth weight was positively associated with BMD-TB and BMC at all sites among girls; standardized β coefficients [95% CI] were 0.11 [0.01, 0.20] for BMD-TB and 0.15 [0.06, 0.24], 0.18 [0.09, 0.28] and 0.29 [0.20, 0.38] for BMC-FN, TH and TB, respectively. In boys, birth weight was positively associated with BMC at all sites with estimates of 0.10 [0.01, 0.19], 0.12 [0.03, 0.21] and 0.15 [0.07, 0.24] for FN, TH and TB, respectively. Corresponding analyses using birth length as exposure gave significantly positive associations with BMC at all sites in both sexes. The significant positive association between birth weight and BMC-TB in girls, and birth length and BMC-TB in boys remained after multivariable adjustment.


We found a positive association between birth size and BMC in adolescence. However, this association was attenuated after adjustment for weight, height and physical activity during adolescence.


Birth weight DXA Osteoporosis Humans Bone density 



We are grateful to the study participants, the staff at the Clinical Research Unit at the University Hospital of North Norway (UNN HF) and the Fit Futures administration for conducting the study. We thank Robert Kechter at Finnmark Hospital Trust, Carsten Rolland at the School of Sport Sciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research for office and administration contributions. We also thank the Norwegian Osteoporosis Association for supporting paediatric software and the Northern Norway Regional Health Authorities for funding this work.

Authors’ contribution

Study design: TC, AW, LAA and NE. Study conduct: A-SF, GG and NE. Data collection: TC, A-SF, GG, NE, O-AN and AW. Data analysis: TC, LAA and NE. Data interpretation: TC, LAA, EMD and NE. Drafting the manuscript: TC, LAA and NE. Revising the manuscript content: TC, LAA, AKD, EMD, EKE, A-SF, LG-M, GG, O-AN, BS, GST, DV, AW and NE. Approving the final version of the manuscript TC, LAA, AKD, EMD, EKE, A-SF, LG-M, GG, O-AN, BS, GST, DV, AW and NE. TC, LAA and NE take responsibility for the integrity of the data analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was approved by The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (reference number 2009/1282) and by The Regional Committee of Medical and Health Research Ethics (reference number 2011/1702/REKnord).

Funding sources

The Northern Norway Regional Health Authorities (SFP1160-14) funded this study. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis, interpretation or decision to submit this manuscript for publication.

Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material

11657_2017_348_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tore Christoffersen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Luai A. Ahmed
    • 1
    • 3
  • Anne Kjersti Daltveit
    • 4
    • 5
  • Elaine M. Dennison
    • 6
    • 7
  • Elin K. Evensen
    • 8
  • Anne-Sofie Furberg
    • 9
    • 10
  • Luis Gracia-Marco
    • 11
    • 12
  • Guri Grimnes
    • 13
    • 14
  • Ole-Andreas Nilsen
    • 1
  • Berit Schei
    • 15
    • 16
  • Grethe S. Tell
    • 4
    • 5
  • Dimitris Vlachopoulos
    • 11
  • Anne Winther
    • 17
  • Nina Emaus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health and Care SciencesUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Finnmark Hospital TrustAltaNorway
  3. 3.Institute of Public Health, College of Medicine and Health SciencesUnited Arab Emirates UniversityAl AinUnited Arab Emirates
  4. 4.Domain for Health Data and DigitalizationNorwegian Institute of Public HealthBergenNorway
  5. 5.Department of Global Public Health and Primary CareUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  6. 6.MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology UnitUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  7. 7.School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  8. 8.Clinical Research DepartmentUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway
  9. 9.Department of Community MedicineUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  10. 10.Department of Microbiology and Infection ControlUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway
  11. 11.Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, Sport and Health SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  12. 12.Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development Research GroupUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  13. 13.Division of Internal MedicineUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway
  14. 14.Tromsø Endocrine Research Group, Department of Clinical MedicineUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  15. 15.Department of Public Health and Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway
  16. 16.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologySt. Olavs Hospital Trondheim University HospitalTrondheimNorway
  17. 17.Division of Neurosciences, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation ServicesUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway

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