The Bakary Dibba Study (BDS): Effect of calcium supplementation on growth and bone mineral accretion in Gambian children accustomed to a low calcium diet ISRCTN28836000

ING Staff: Ann Prentice, Yankuba Sawo, Landing Jarjou, Kate Ward, Inez Schoenmakers, Gail Goldberg

Rural Gambian children have poor growth, delayed puberty, a low bone mineral content, and a very low calcium intake. In the BDS study we are investigating the short and long term effects of calcium supplementation. 160 children (80 boys, 80 girls) aged 8-12 years old, living in the village of Keneba, in the West Kiang district of The Gambia, were randomised to receive either 1000 mg Ca/d or a matched placebo on five days a week for a year.

Supplementation increased calcium intake from an average of 342 to 1056 mg/d and the increased calcium intake resulted in increased bone mineral status, but no significant effect on growth by the end of the intervention period. However, alterations in biochemistry suggested an effect of supplementation on bone and calcium metabolism. Further studies are needed to determine whether an increased calcium intake has long-term benefits in Gambian children, so we have been following up the participants regularly throughout late childhood and adolescence and into early adulthood.

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