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Bone Density in Peripubertal Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders

TitleBone Density in Peripubertal Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsNeumeyer, AM, Gates, A, Ferrone, C, Lee, H, Misra, M
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Date PublishedNov 4
ISBN Number1573-3432; 0162-3257

We determined whether bone mineral density (BMD) is lower in boys with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) than controls, and also assessed variables that may affect BMD in ASD. BMD was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in 18 boys with ASD and 19 controls 8-14 years old. Boys with ASD had lower BMD Z-scores at the spine, hip and femoral neck, and differences at the hip and femoral neck persisted after controlling for maturity and BMI. Vitamin D intake from food and in serum were lower in ASD subjects, as was exercise activity. We conclude that BMD is lower in peripubertal boys with ASD and may be associated with impaired vitamin D status and lower exercise activity.


Lead Author
Ann Neumeyer

Study Aims/Objectives
To determine whether bone mineral density (BMD) is lower in boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) than in similar aged boys without ASD and to learn what might be causing a difference in BMD.

Methods - Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
Eighteen boys with ASD and 19 typical boys between the ages of 8–14 years participated in the study. BMD of the lower spine and hip was determined using X-ray scans (DEXA). Other measurements included weight and height for Body Mass Index (BMI), and questionnaires for exercise habits and diet, stress hormone levels in saliva, and fasting levels of testosterone and vitamins and minerals important for bone health.

Results – Main Finding(s)
The two groups did not differ in age or BMI; however, the boys with ASD reported that they had less physical activity. The boys with ASD also had lower BMD at the lower spine and hip. Vitamin D intake from food, and total food plus supplement calcium intake were lower in boys with ASD. Levels of testosterone and morning stress hormones were similar for both groups. Night time levels of stress hormones were higher for the boys with ASD than the typical boys.

Conclusion – Summary Statement
This study gives evidence that boys with ASD have a lower BMD at the hip and lower back than typical boys. The boys with ASD also reported lower levels of physical activity and consumed less calcium and vitamin D, two important nutrients for bone health. Further work should be done to determine the impact of vitamin D intake and exercise on bone health in boys with ASD.

PubMed ID23124396