Bone Density in Peripubertal Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders


We determined whether bone mineral density (BMD) is lower in boys with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) than controls, and also assessed variables that may affect BMD in ASD. BMD was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in 18 boys with ASD and 19 controls 8–14 years old. Boys with ASD had lower BMD Z-scores at the spine, hip and femoral neck, and differences at the hip and femoral neck persisted after controlling for maturity and BMI. Vitamin D intake from food and in serum were lower in ASD subjects, as was exercise activity. We conclude that BMD is lower in peripubertal boys with ASD and may be associated with impaired vitamin D status and lower exercise activity.

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Bone mineral density


Bone mineral apparent density


Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry


Autism spectrum disorder


Insulin-like growth factor-1


Thyroid stimulating hormone




N-terminal propeptide of Type 1 procollagen




Sex hormone binding globulin


Standard deviation


Standard error


Coefficient of variation


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This research was supported in part by NIH grants 1 UL1 RR025758-01 and as part of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network. Further support came from a cooperative agreement (UA3 MC 11054) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program, to the Massachusetts General Hospital, and in partnership with the Lurie Center for Autism. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Autism Speaks, Inc. We are grateful to our colleagues Drs. Susan McGrew and Cynthia Molloy for their collaboration and help in setting up this project, and Drs. Susan McGrew and James Perrin for their help in preparation of this manuscript. We would also like to thank Dr. Christopher McDougle for his helpful comments in the revision of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ann M. Neumeyer.

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Neumeyer, A.M., Gates, A., Ferrone, C. et al. Bone Density in Peripubertal Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 43, 1623–1629 (2013).

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  • Autism
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Bone density
  • Puberty
  • Bone turnover
  • Bone metabolism