To use our website in an optimal way, please activate JavaScript in your Browser.

Bone, 2017; 103(): 31-38, PMID: 28583879

Long-term effects of maternal calcium supplementation on childhood growth differ between males and females in a population accustomed to a low calcium intake.

Year: 2017

Ward KA, Jarjou L, Prentice A
Nutrition and Bone Health, Medical Research Council Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, UK; MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. Electronic address:


The importance of adequate calcium intakes for healthy growth and bone development has long been recognised. Recent evidence suggests that calcium supplementation may have sex-specific effects on bone growth in childhood. The aim was to describe the long-term effects of calcium supplementation in pregnant Gambian women with a low calcium intake (ISCRTN96502494) on offspring height, weight, bone and body composition in childhood, and whether the effects differ by sex. Children of mothers who participated in the original calcium supplementation trial were measured at age 8-12years using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and peripheral quantitative computed tomography. Linear models tested for sex*supplement interactions before and after adjusting for current age and size in early life. 447 children, aged 9.2(SD 0.9) years, were measured. Significant sex*supplement interactions (p<0.05) were observed for many of the anthropometric and bone outcomes, Females whose mothers received calcium (F-Ca) were shorter, lighter with smaller bones and less bone mineral than those whose mothers received placebo (F-P), differences (SE) ranged from height=-1.0 (0.5)% to hip BMC -5.5 (2.3)%. Males from mothers in the calcium group (M-Ca) had greater mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) (+2.0 (1.0)%, p=0.05) and fat mass (+11.6 (5.1)%, p=0.02) and tended towards greater BMC and size than those whose mothers were in the placebo group (M-P). The differences in anthropometry and body composition were robust to adjustment for current height and weight, whereas all bone differences became non-significant. F-P were taller with more BMC than M-P, whereas F-Ca had similar sized bones and mineral content to M-Ca. Calcium supplementation of pregnant women with low calcium intakes altered the childhood trajectories of growth and bone and body composition development of their offspring in a sex-specific manner, resulting in slower growth among females compared to placebo and accelerated growth among males by age 8-12years.

GID: 4556; Last update: 15.11.2017