British Journal of Nutrition

Calcium intake and bone mass in children

A randomized double-blind controlled calcium supplementation trial, and bone height acquisition in children

Warren T. K. Leea1*, Sophie S. F. Leunga1, Doram. Y. Leunga1, Heidi S. Y. Tsanga1, Joseph Laua2 and Jack C. Y. Chenga3

a1 Department of Paediatrics, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong

a2 Centre for Clinical Trials and Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong

a3 Department of Orthopaedics, and Traumatology. Faculty of Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong

Abstract

There is limited information relating Ca intake to bone and height acquisition among Oriental children who consume little or even no milk. The present controlled study investigated the acquisition of bone mass and height of Chinese children with an initial Ca intake of approximately 567 mg/d who were supplemented to about 800 mg/d. Eighty-four 7-year-old Hong Kong Chinese children underwent an 18-month randomized, double-blind, controlled Ca-supplementation trial. The children were randomized to receive either 300 mg elemental Ca or a placebo tablet daily. Bone mass of the distal one-third radius was measured by single-photon absorptiometry, lumbar spine and femoral neck were determined using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Measurements were repeated 6-monthly. Baseline serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol concentration and physical activity were also assessed. Baseline Ca intakes of the study group and controls were respectively 571 (SD 326) and 563 (SD 337) mg/d. There were no significant differences in baseline serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol concentration (P = 0·71) and physical activity (P = 0·36) between the study and control groups. After 18 months the study group had significantly greater increases in lumbar-spinal bone mineral content (20·9 v. 16. 34%; P = 0·035), lumbar-spinal area (11·16 v. 8·71%; P = 0middot;049), and a moderately greater increment in areal bone mineral density of the radius (7·74 0·600%; P = 0.081) when compared with the controls. The results confirm a positive effect of Ca on bone mass of the spine and radius but no effects on femoral-neck and height increase. A longer trial is warranted to confirm a positive Ca effect during childhood that may modify future peak bone mass.

(Received August 08 1994)

(Revised November 10 1994)

(Accepted December 06 1994)

Footnotes

* For reprints.