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Margaret Mead
Research Article

Age- and gender-dependent values of skeletal muscle mass in healthy children and adolescents


BackgroundSkeletal muscle mass (SMM) can be extracted from whole-body scans obtained by X-ray-based dual-photon absorptiometry (DXA). There is a need to establish expected age-dependent values for children and adolescents.MethodsAppendicular lean tissue mass (ALM) was extracted from whole-body DXA scans in 140 healthy children and adolescents (68 females and 72 males). Whole-body SMM was calculated from ALM using equations developed by Kim et al. (Am J Clin Nutr 84:1014–1020, 2006). Age-dependent patterns of increase in SMM were derived by fitting SMM values to equations that consisted of the sum of two logistic expressions, one accounting for SMM changes during growth and the other for SMM changes during puberty. Normal ranges were defined so that 95% of the SMM values were included. The reproducibility of SMM measurements was obtained from whole-body DXA scans repeated on three occasions in each of a separate group of 32 normal children with repositioning between scans.ResultsNormal ranges are presented as equations describing the age-dependent pattern of increase in SMM as well as population standard deviations that increased steadily with age. For 15 children below age 10, SMM reproducibility (95% CI) was 149 g (119–199 g) while for 17 children and adolescents over age 10, reproducibility was 170 g (138–223 g).ConclusionDXA-based measurements of SMM in children and adolescents are reproducible and can be expressed in terms of age-dependent Z scores.