The researchers drew on data from the Bone Mineral Density in Childhood Study (BMDCS), funded by the NIH. That study included sophisticated bone and growth measurements during annual visits for up to seven years in over 2,000 healthy children, adolescents and young adults during 2002 to 2010. Babette S. Zemel, PhD, another co-study leader, was the principal investigator of the BMDCS at CHOP, where she directs the Nutrition and Growth Laboratory.
In the current research, the study team used a relatively new tool called a “genetic risk score” (GRS), which enables collective study of a group of genetic variants in one go. “We generated a genetic risk score in the BMDCS study based on hundreds of genetic variants associated with later puberty in children, and looked for associations with bone mineral density measurements,” said first author Diana Cousminer, PhD, a CHOP geneticist with expertise in the genetics of puberty. The researchers performed these analyses separately in boys and girls, and also in publicly available corresponding genetic data on bone mineral density in adults.