Title

Sexual Dimorphism and the Origins of Human Spinal Health.

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1-2018

Institution/Department

Center for Clinical & Translational Research, Maine Medical Center Research Institute

Journal Title

Endocrine reviews

MeSH Headings

Adolescent, Adult, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Sex Characteristics, Spinal Diseases, Spine

Abstract

Recent observations indicate that the cross-sectional area (CSA) of vertebral bodies is on average 10% smaller in healthy newborn girls than in newborn boys, a striking difference that increases during infancy and puberty and is greatest by the time of sexual and skeletal maturity. The smaller CSA of female vertebrae is associated with greater spinal flexibility and could represent the human adaptation to fetal load in bipedal posture. Unfortunately, it also imparts a mechanical disadvantage that increases stress within the vertebrae for all physical activities. This review summarizes the potential endocrine, genetic, and environmental determinants of vertebral cross-sectional growth and current knowledge of the association between the small female vertebrae and greater risk for a broad array of spinal conditions across the lifespan.

ISSN

1945-7189

First Page

221

Last Page

239

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