Why Does Bone Growth Matter?
By Alpro Pharmacy
June 25, 2021
Growth and development are key in the early stages of life, but why does bone growth matter?
Kids need adequate nutrients to support growth and development, and the consequences of inadequate nutrition in childhood can be serious. Kids who do not get complete, balanced nutrition for extended periods may experience nutrient deficiencies, growth faltering, impaired cognitive development, and compromised immune function.
Linear Bone Growth
The most important target organ for linear growth is the epiphyseal growth plate or growth plate, a layer of cartilaginous tissue growing near both ends of the long bones in kids and adolescents. Linear growth is the result of a cascade of events that take place in the growth plate- the growth center of the long bones.
Linear growth is predominantly regulated by Growth Hormone (GH) in childhood, which is synthesized and secreted by specific cells in the pituitary gland. Through this release of GH, insulin-like growth factor 1 is stimulated, which is key for bone growth and in turn helps determine the growth curve of each individual child.
The height a kid ultimately achieves in adulthood is a summary of processes carried out at the growth plate of long bones. Genetic factors such as parental height is an important determinant of a kid’s height, but environmental factors, such as nutrition, especially in early childhood, can also affect bone growth.
Importance of Bone Growth
Pediatric malnutrition (undernutrition) is defined as an imbalance between nutrient requirements and intake, resulting in deficiencies that may negatively affect growth, development, and other relevant outcomes. Without proper intake of nutrients, kids can be at risk for significant immune deficiencies, compromised cognitive function, behavioral problems, diminished bone health, and decreased muscle mass, especially if undernutrition is chronic in duration or stunting has occurred.
During childhood, the growth plate matures, its total width decreases and eventually it disappears at the end of puberty. When skeletal maturity is reached after puberty, all cartilage is replaced by bone and there is a fusing of the growth plate so no more growth can be achieved. Therefore, early identification and timely intervention are critical to help restore normal growth and development.
Nutrition is one of the most important environmental factors influencing growth and is especially important during early childhood, as approximately 60% of adult height is achieved by age five. That is bone growth is so important and why making sure a child received the proper nutrients from the start of life is equally as important.