Altered Bone and Body Composition in Children and Adolescents With Confirmed Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
Prenatal alcohol exposure can contribute to long-term adverse health outcomes. Development of the skeletal system begins at the early embryonic stage and continues into early adulthood but the effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on skeletal growth is relatively unexplored in a clinical population.
The researchers performed dual X-ray absorptiometry to examine bone, fat, and muscle accrual in children and adolescents diagnosed with, or at risk of, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Children (aged 4–9 years) with FASD or at risk of FASD (n = 10) had similar growth to age matched controls (n = 27).
By adolescence (aged ≥10 years), those with FASDs (n = 13) were shorter and had lower areal bone mineral density and lean tissue mass than typically developing peers (n = 29). Overall, adolescents diagnosed with FASDs had greater odds of impairments to bone and body composition.
These findings highlight the importance of early FASD diagnosis and appropriate post-diagnostic medical follow-up to enable timely, effective interventions to optimize bone and body composition during pediatric growth.