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The shifting trajectory of growth in femur length during gestation


Bone size is a determinant of bone strength and tracks in its percentile of origin during childhood and adolescence. We hypothesized that the ranking of an individual's femur length (FL) is established in early gestation and tracks thereafter. Fetal FL was measured serially using 2D ultrasound in 625 Norwegian fetuses. Tracking was assessed using Pearson correlation, a generalized estimating equation model, and by calculating the proportion of fetuses whose FL remained within the same quartile. Baseline FL Z-score (weeks 10 to 19) and later measurements correlated, but more weakly as gestation advanced: r = 0.59 (weeks 20 to 26); r = 0.45 (weeks 27 to 33); and r = 0.32 (weeks 34 to 39) (p < 0.001). Tracking within the same quartile throughout gestation occurred in 13% of fetuses. Of the 87% deviating, 21% returned to the quartile of origin, so 34% began and ended in the same quartile, 38% deviated by one quartile, and 28% deviated by two or more quartiles by the end of gestation. A standard deviation higher baseline FL Z-score, placental weight (150 g), maternal height (5 cm), and weight (10 kg), was associated with a 0.25, 0.15, 0.10, and 0.05 SD higher FL Z-score at the end of gestation, respectively (p ranging from <0.001 to 0.02). Tracking within the same percentile throughout the whole of gestation, as suggest by growth charts, is uncommon. Deviation from tracking is more common and is the result of changes in growth velocity within and between fetuses and is partly influenced by maternal, fetal, and placental factors.

Type Journal
ISBN 1523-4681 (Electronic) 0884-0431 (Linking)
Authors Bjornerem, A.; Johnsen, S. L.; Nguyen, T. V.; Kiserud, T.; Seeman, E.;
Published Date 2010-01-01
Published Volume 25
Published Issue 5
Published Pages 1029-33
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version