Bone Accrual in Children and Adolescent Nonelite Swimmers: A 2-Year Longitudinal Study.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine differences in bone mass between children and adolescents swimming competitively at nonelite levels (locally and regionally) and nonathletes and to assess changes in bone mass in these 2 groups over 24 months after taking into consideration several known confounders of bone mass.

DESIGN

Observational prospective study.

PARTICIPANTS

White nonelite swimmers (n = 128) and nonathletes (n = 106) 8 to 18 years of age from Memphis, Tennessee, USA.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES

Participants underwent dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry to assess total body and hip bone mineral content (BMC) at baseline and 12 and 24 months later.

RESULTS

At baseline, swimmers had 4.2% and 6.1% higher adjusted BMC for the total body and hip, respectively, compared with nonathletes (P values < 0.027). Averaging across assessment points, swimmers had 73.5 and 2.2 g higher BMC for the total body and hip, respectively, than nonathletes. Although there was a significant annual increase in total body and hip BMC in both groups (33.5 and 0.7 g, respectively), there was no difference in annualized bone accrual between swimmers and nonathletes for either total body BMC (swim by time effect; P = 0.213) or hip BMC (P = 0.265).

CONCLUSIONS

Competitive swimming at nonelite levels during childhood and adolescence does not seem to compromise bone accrual.

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