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Although suboptimal bone health has been reported in children and adolescents with low motor competence (LMC), it is not known whether such deficits are present at the time of peak bone mass. We examined the impact of LMC on bone mineral density (BMD) in 1043 participants (484 females) from the Raine Cohort Study. Participants had motor competence assessed using the McCarron Assessment of Neuromuscular Development at 10, 14, and 17 years, and a whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan at 20 years. Bone loading from physical activity was estimated from the International Physical Activity Questionnaire at the age of 17 years. The association between LMC and BMD was determined using general linear models that controlled for sex, age, body mass index, vitamin D status, and prior bone loading. Results indicated LMC status (present in 29.6% males and 21.9% females) was associated with a 1.8% to 2.6% decrease in BMD at all load-bearing bone sites. Assessment by sex showed that the association was mainly in males. Osteogenic potential of physical activity was associated with increased BMD dependent on sex and LMC status, with males with LMC showing a reduced effect from increasing bone loading. As such, although engagement in osteogenic physical activity is associated with BMD, other factors involved in physical activity, eg, diversity, movement quality, may also contribute to BMD differences based upon LMC status. The finding of lower peak bone mass for individuals with LMC may reflect a higher risk of osteoporosis, especially for males; however, further research is required.
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