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The mechanism whereby poor intrauterine growth increases risk of adult hip fracture is unclear. We report the association between birth weight and proximal femoral geometry and density in community-dwelling elderly men. We used self-reported birth weight, measured adult height and weight and proximal femoral quantitative computed tomography (QCT) measurements of femoral neck axis length, cross-sectional area, and volumetric BMD (vBMD) among the participants in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS), a cohort study of community-dwelling US men aged 65 and older. We compared men with birth weight <7 pounds (lower birth weight [LBW]; n = 501) and ≥ 9 pounds (higher birth weight [HBW]; n = 262) with those weighing 7-8.9 pounds (medium birth weight [MBW], referent group; n = 1068) using linear regression adjusting for current age, height, and BMI. The mean age of the 1831 men who had both birth weight and QCT measurements was 73 years (SD 5.9). Compared with the referent MBW, HBW men had concordantly longer femoral neck (+0.16 SD; p = .028) and cross-sectional area (+0.24 SD, p = .001). LBW men had a smaller cross-sectional (-0.26 SD, p < .001) but longer femoral neck for their height (+0.11 SD, p = .05). Neither cortical nor trabecular vBMD at the femoral neck was associated with birth weight. These findings support the hypothesis that the skeletal envelope, but not density, is set, in part, at birth. Further research exploring the association between early developmental factors and lifetime fracture risk is needed and may inform primary preventative strategies for fracture prevention.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date





1802 - 1807


Adult, Aged, Birth Weight, Bone Density, European Continental Ancestry Group, Femur, Femur Neck, Hip, Humans, Infant, Low Birth Weight, Infant, Newborn, Male, Organ Size, Osteoporotic Fractures, Pelvis, Self Report, Tomography, X-Ray Computed